LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced Tuesday that the sheriff's department would permanently ban the transfer of qualified inmates to immigration and customs control.

"There is no greater threat to public security than a million undocumented immigrants who are afraid to report crimes for fear of deportation and tearing up their families," Villanueva said in a statement. "As the Los Angeles County Sheriff, I am responsible for the public safety of everyone, regardless of immigration status."

Villanueva said he had initially ordered a moratorium on the transfer of the country's largest prison system to ICE amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but said after hearing about pending litigation regarding conditions at the Adelanto / ICE detention center and allegations similar ICE experienced conditions in other institutions, the moratorium was finally set.

"We will no longer bring people into the custody of ICE who are based solely on a civilian immigrant prisoner," he said. "In doing so, we've created a clear line between federal immigration enforcement and local law enforcement in the most populous county in the country."

According to Villanueva, the permanent ban was preceded by its "categorical rejection of the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program grant, which sold our undocumented inmate database data, essentially for federal funding."

Villanueva said the department will encourage ICE to use the "constitutionally sound" warrant system to conduct legal transfers.

"The Sheriff's Department will also continue its work with the District Attorney's Office by providing the necessary assurances requested by ICE to ensure that those who have fled to other countries to avoid prosecution return and face justice" , he said. "Violent criminals who persecute our law abiding communities should be held fully accountable."

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