SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — The San Francisco Sheriff’s Department has confirmed that twice last week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were allowed inside the jail to interview inmates, a direct violation of state laws as well as jail policy.
In a written statement, Sheriff Vicki Hennessy acknowledges ICE agents were allowed into the jail to question inmates twice last Thursday.
One inmate refused to talk with the agents, but the second did speak with them, and public defender Jeff Adachi said there are irreversible consequences.
“We understand the ICE agents went in, there was no lawyer present. They asked him questions, asked him who he was, asked him to sign a piece of paper, which he did, and then there was a detainer placed on him,” Adachi told KPIX 5.
The public defender said the man who cooperated with ICE was one of his clients.
“That person had a detainer placed on him, meaning that he’ll be held in custody by ICE and that’s irreversible,” Adachi said.
Attorneys from Adachi’s office questioned the deputies when they saw what was happening last Thursday.
“My lawyers approached the deputy and said, ‘Hey, what are you doing? Why are you letting these ICE officers in?’ The deputy just said, ‘Oh, I’ll let them in like anyone else,'” Adachi said.
But there are state laws as well as sanctuary city and jail policies in place to prevent letting ICE agents interview inmates.
Adachi wants to know how and why this happened.
“I can’t imagine how someone that’s working for the sheriff’s department isn’t aware of the policy. It’s a very simple one that they’re not to cooperate with ICE,” the public defender said.
Hennessy released a statement saying “Any breach is a serious matter… We made a mistake and as Sheriff, I hold myself accountable. We are investigating how and why this happened.”
“I hope this wasn’t a situation of deputies acting on their own sort of as ICE vigilantes, that certainly would be grounds for discipline,” Adachi said.
“I trust the sheriff when she says that these were officers who were not trained. If it happens again, my feeling is going to be different,” the public defender went on to say.
Hennessy said the ICE agents came back to the jail Monday, but this time deputies refused to let them in.
The sheriff said she is still going to provide more training to deputies so they all clearly understand the policy and do not let ICE agents interact with inmates.