Enforcing Immigration Laws

The mission of the Orange County Sheriff’s Cross Designation program is to reduce crime, reduce jail overcrowding, reduce recidivism, and improve the quality of life in our communities.

The Cross Designation program originated during a meeting between Sheriff Michael Carona, Orange County Supervisor Campbell and Congressman Christopher Cox. A possible solution arose to alleviate jail overcrowding and recidivism during a meeting on September 15, 2003. Section 287 (g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act provides for the Department of Homeland Security to enter into written agreements with counties for the purpose of establishing a “Cross Designation Program.” Locally, the program gives trained deputies the authority to perform certain duties of an immigration officer. A Memorandum of Agreement was established to provide for the training and certification of Orange County Sheriff’s Deputies assigned to Jail Operations. On October 17, 2006, the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved the Memorandum of Agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Pursuant to the Memorandum of Agreement, two sergeants and 12 deputies entered a four week course taught by instructors from Department of Homeland Security. The course of study included, but was not limited to; issues related to immigration, nationality law and procedures. The sergeants and deputies successfully graduated from the course on December 21, 2006.

Currently, two sergeants and eight deputies are assigned to the Intake Release Center and four deputies are assigned to the Theo Lacy Facility. Collectively, they form the ICE Cross Designation program and actively conduct interviews of all foreign nationals booked into our jail system. In the first month of operation, ICE trained deputies have more than doubled the average amount of immigration holds previously placed on criminal foreign nationals by Immigration Customs Enforcement agents.

To gauge the unit’s efficiency, statistical data is collected on a weekly basis. Per the Memorandum of Agreement, the data is shared with the Department of Homeland Security by way of a steering committee. The steering committee meets periodically to review the performance of the unit and to insure compliance with existing rules and regulations. The statistical data collected includes the number of inmates booked, initially interviewed, ICE interviewed, holds placed, aggravated felons, felons, misdemeanors, and their gender. As of this date, ICE Cross Designation deputies have interviewed more than twice as many inmates booked for felony charges as those who have been booked for misdemeanor charges.