L.A. County Sheriff Expresses Sympathy for Immigrants, But Says Sanctuary Bill Could Hurt Them

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Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell says he understands the struggles of immigrants trying to make a better life in America.

L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell has come out in opposition to a so-called “sanctuary state” bill. (Credit: Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

His parents moved to Boston from Ireland a year before he was born. His father was a laborer whose gigs included digging ditches.

But McDonnell now finds himself walking a political tightrope, breaking ranks with many other Los Angeles politicians by opposing a “sanctuary state” bill that aims to prevent federal immigration agents from taking custody of people being released from California jails.

In deep blue, immigrant-rich California, it’s proven to be good politics for officials to stand up to President Trump’s policies, especially over his promise of mass deportation for people in the U.S. illegally. But McDonnell and some other sheriffs who oversee jails say they have no choice but to make a stand against a sanctuary proposal that they believe is more likely to hurt immigrants than protect them.

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