El Dorado County To Enforce Federal-Immigration Laws—In Defiance Of New, California Laws

[Downtown Placerville, outside the historic "Hangman's Tree." | Photo: Alphawulf]
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With sanctuary cities existing across the US, President Trump is determined to round up illegal-immigrant criminals. However, some places, including California, are standing their ground. El Dorado County (specifically Placerville, CA) is one such area, but the public positions aren’t aligned—this leaves local-law enforcement in a bit of conundrum.

[El Dorado County’s Sheriff John D’Agostini | Photo: Michael Macor/San Francisco Chronicle]
Sheriff John D’Agostini understands the need for federal-law enforcement but figuratively scratched his head at the would-be protocol if Sacramento lawmakers adopted San Francisco’s sanctuary-city policies.

While this should be an easy answer, Sheriff D’Agostini lives in a state infamous for protecting immigrants. Areas like his El Dorado County still honor federal law and have a strongly conservative presence, but California’s Senate recently proposed a bill (SB54) that would minimize the state’s adherence to ICE and other federal-law enforcement.

D’Agostini’s position is the bill enables and ultimately pads illegals from justice. More, his county comprises many Gold Rush spots and mountain-base towns that wouldn’t stand for such ethics. D’Agostini himself isn’t necessarily on board with it either.

“I’m going to follow federal law on this issue,” Sheriff D’Agostini said in an interview. Heck, to some Placerville was also known as ‘Old Hangtown.’ “It’s concerning because it’s going to put me crosswise with state law.”

[Downtown Placerville | Source: CityOfPlacerville.org]
More, D’Agostini’s not alone in his principles—El Dorado’s full of support. George’s Truck & Auto Repair Owner George Turnboo, who has constantly run for office there, thinks the state should leave D’Agostini and the town alone—they’re fully capable of sorting out the bad guys from the good… As President Trump enforced, the “bad guys” will be deported.

“I have a lot of immigrants who are really good friends of mine, but a lot of them voted for Trump because they believe in doing the right thing—which is to immigrate legally,” Turnboo told the media. “The problem is when immigrants commit horrible crimes and they release them into our community. That’s wrong.”

The bill itself is in flux, but if the Assembly approves it and Governor Jerry Brown stamps his John Hancock on it, local authorities would be powerless in terms of laying down immigration law—e.g., undocumented illegals could roam free and without worry… More, local law wouldn’t be allowed to aid in federal matters concerning illegal-immigration issues. Jailhouse authorities could only help ICE to an extent; however, if the bill passes, local law still has the power to contact federal authorities prior to discharging the more severe offenders. (Does that mean they’ve to wait until an illegal kills…?)

[El Dorado County local George Turnboo (L) sits with friend Kathy Bryson(R)—a Placerville resident. | Photo: Michael Macor/San Francisco Chronicle]
Now, neither D’Agostini nor his team go proactively searching out illegal immigrants—let alone detain them regularly. He explained this bill would enable and ultimately set free a smallable amount of existent prisoners in El Dorada County Jail.

D’Agostini’s not sweating the numbers rather local politicians who might micro-manage him and his team—e.g., deny federal-law enforcement access to would-be-crucial knowledge on illegal-immigrant crime. “I believe it’s not lawful,” D’Agostini said.

Not only is the area primarily conservative, but its range goes from the El Dorado Hills to tourist spots of Gold Country and all the way to South Lake Tahoe—follow the historical Pony Express path. President Trump won the voters of this vast expanse via 52.6 percent to Clinton’s 38.9 percent.

Similar to other counties, El Dorado’s seemingly against and will ultimately fight the possible bill. Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León (D-L.A.) authored the legislation, which would definitely conflict with White House policies.

De León himself is of the mind Team Trump is pushing sanctuary cities to the point of locals reluctant to come forward with illegal activity—a public-safety issue. He added that parents are thinking twice about sending their kids to school. (Hmmm…can’t say that argument holds up unless they’re illegals.)

And Democrats are really confident, as bill-co-author/California Senator Scott Wiener (D-S.F.) said the sheriff’s certainly free to stand against the legislation but “is obliged to follow it” if it becomes state law. “The purpose of this bill is to make it very clear to our immigrant communities that interacting with law enforcement in California is not the same as interacting with immigration authorities,” Wiener said.

[Benham St. in Downtown Placerville | Photo: Nancy Hayes]
El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson feels this looming bill would add an unsafe element to the area. He knows local law need to correspond to federal agents. “There is no doubt we have a number of people in this country illegally who have committed crimes,” Pierson said in an interview. “And those are the people SB54 seeks to protect.”

El Dorado County’s majority is white—80 percent in fact. The remaining percentage is primarily Latino. Many of the latter are undocumented but labor in the county’s vineyards and apple orchards located in Placerville’s hills. Farmers are on the proverbial fence with the bill. “When you have confusion and over-the-top rhetoric, people’s perceptions can be tied to fear; and it’s already difficult enough to find skilled labor without making all the immigrants scared,” Madroña Vineyards co-owner Paul Bush. He and wife Maggie own the 85-acre operation located in Camino.

While the pro-illegals bill has farmers worried, Bene Ristorante owner and Chef Ben Butler staffs legal immigrants. He also appreciates federal agents deporting criminals. “I struggle finding dishwashers,” Butler said. “It’s a necessity to have immigrants—as long as there is a way to weed out the criminals.”

Because El Dorado County has a prevalent, farming community, Sheriff D’Agostini doesn’t plan on picking illegals from the harvest—or even dining establishments. His priorities are on legitimate criminals.

Still, D’Agostini anticipates the bill igniting a fire between Team Trump and the city of Sacramento. However, the Republican White House already has one up on them in terms of denying the city (or anywhere) Department of Justice grants if they enact sanctuary laws.

“I think it’s inevitable they are going to be at odds,” Sheriff D’Agostini said. In terms of anti-SB54 counties, he said, “[they] will be the test bed for that case law, and I feel very confident federal law will prevail.”


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