SAN JOSE (KPIX) — South Bay leaders are squaring off after a recent San Jose murder case has officials taking sides over Santa Clara County’s immigration policy.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo is the latest city leader to say it may be time to cooperate with ICE in order to help keep dangerous criminals off the streets.

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Liccardo’s suggestion that the county should re-think its policy of non-cooperation with federal immigration officials met a swift and emotional backlash at Tuesday’s city council meeting.

“I’m just going to say I felt a little bit of a betrayal,” said councilmember Magdalena Carrasco, who questioned the mayor’s support of the city’s immigrant communities.

San Jose homicide victim Bambi Larson (Facebook)

Liccardo says he was prompted to speak out about the county’s policy in the aftermath of the brutal murder of Bambi Larson in her South San Jose home. Within days, police arrested transient Carlos Arevalo-Carranza for Larson’s death.

Authorities revealed the suspect had been arrested nearly a dozen times while living in the country illegally for the past six years.

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“We can best protect our law-abiding immigrant  communities — and the rest of our city — by cooperating with other agencies to prevent predatory felons from threatening the safety of our community,” Mayor Liccardo wrote in a prepared statement.

Liccardo said it would a common sense, practical and legal policy to simply allow the Sheriff’s office to “pick up the phone” and notify federal agents prior to the release of a “violent or predatory felon” who is in the country illegally.

But critics say the failure is not the county’s policy, but the feds’ refusal to get arrest warrants in a timely manner for offenders they want to deport.

“It’s much better when we have a warrant. Because when we have a warrant, we can directly hand the person off and have ICE take custody. A phone call or some other kind of notification often that doesn’t work,” said Santa Clara County Counsel James Williams.

The reality is that any discussion of immigration policy in the age of President Trump has become super polarized.

It remains to be seen if politicians and law enforcement in San Jose can manage find a compromise when it comes to Santa Clara County’s policy with ICE.

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