A.G. Sessions references Ventura County case in criticism of state sanctuary laws

Suspect on the run since January

Sessions blasts California state sanctuary laws

VENTURA COUNTY, Calif. - During Jeff Sessions' speech at the California Peace Officers Association Wednesday, the U.S. attorney general specifically referenced a case regarding law enforcement officials' refusal to turn over a sex crime suspect to immigration authorities.

According to the Ventura County Sheriff's Department, an arrest warrant was issued for 34-year-old Jose Vaca in June of 2016. Vaca, an undocumented immigrant, is suspected of sexually assaulting a minor multiple times. Vaca evaded his warrant until he was arrested on January 1, 2018. He was booked into jail and the Ventura County Sheriff's Department refused to turn Vaca over to immigration authorities.

Vaca posted $100,000 bail and was released within 24 hours. Vaca then failed to appear before a judge on January 19 and has been on the run ever since, Captain Garo Kuredjian of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department said.

The Ventura County Sheriff's Department is currently searching for Vaca.

In a statement released by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, deputies did not notify ICE of Vaca’s pending release because the new law under Senate Bill 54 would not allow the notification under the circumstances. Vaca was arrested for a qualifying serious or violent offense but SB 54 requires that the arrestee has been arrested, booked and appeared before a judge prior to immigration authorities being notified.

In Vaca’s case, he posted bail before he had appeared in court, the Ventura County Sheriff's Department said.

The Trump Administration has been critical of California's Sanctuary State Law that Governor Brown signed in October of 2017 claiming that it impedes federal law enforcement's ability to arrest and deport specific undocumented immigrants who are believed to be a threat to public safety. The justice department filed a lawsuit against California over the matter late Tuesday.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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