A settlement in a lawsuit over immigration enforcement in Sonoma County either makes notable changes in policy, or merely codifies current practices. Either way, both sides seem satisfied.
One of the key issues in the suit involved the notification of ICE when any undocumented persons wound up in the county jail. Sheriff Steve Freitas says the department's policy had already changed, independent of the legal action.
Another of the lawsuit's outcomes will be immediately visible within the jail itself, notes Rick Coshnear of the Committee for Immigrant Rights of Sonoma County.
ACLU lawyer Julia Harumi Mass says the newly announced settlement isn't exactly a legal precedent, but the resulting policies may serve as a model for other counties to emulate.
When ICE calls asking for a hold on someone in the Sonoma County jail, departmental policy assumes that to be a mandatory request. That remains a contentious issue, says Mass, as advocacy groups feel strongly that such calls are requests, and the county's choice to agree or not is discretionary. And she adds, they have ample documentation to support that view.