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Collusion in California’s Central Valley: The Case for Ending Sheriff Entanglement with ICE

February 17, 2022

Over the past decade, the California Legislature enacted a trio of critical laws intended to protect people from collusion between state and local law enforcement agencies and agencies engaged in immigration enforcement. Certain sheriffs and local law enforcement agencies, however, have circumvented these laws and undermined the protections envisioned for California immigrants — at times in consultation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). As a result of these unlawful practices, sheriffs facilitate the reincarceration of noncitizen community members, whom ICE then forces to sit in prison-like detention awaiting trial, often without counsel. Collaboration between sheriffs and ICE are particularly destructive to the communities of the Central Valley: an expansive rural region with a large immigrant population, high poverty levels, and a dearth of legal services providers.This report exposes the different tactics used by Central Valley sheriffs to divert their resources to immigration enforcement and funnel noncitizen community members into the hands of immigration enforcement authorities. This report also reveals new details about the mechanisms developed by Central Valley sheriffs and law enforcement agencies in close partnership with ICE to evade pro-immigrant state laws. Notably, the practice of funneling people in Central Valley communities to ICE custody has continued even during the COVID-19 pandemic, which threatens particularly dangerous results in the congregate settings of ICE detention centers, which have been plagued by outbreaks.A two-year bill that was introduced in 2021 (AB 937, VISION Act), if enacted, would strengthen prohibitions on entanglement between state and local law enforcement agencies and ICE. This report demonstrates the need for such a bill: to sever sheriff entanglement with immigration enforcement and better protect all California residents.

Bringing Water and Land Use Together: Final Report to the Community Foundation Water Initiative on the Equitable Integration of Water and Land Use

April 1, 2019

California is moving toward a more holistic approach to managing our water and land resources as the 21st century unfolds. This perspective recognizes the interconnectivity between two traditionally fragmented sectors.In 2005, the California Legislature passed new laws that enable communities to join together to adopt Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) policies and practices. This comprehensive planning approach considers water resources in the context of an interconnected watershed with a network of regional governance, rather than as a combination of fragmented parts. Unfortunately, the IRWM program is dominated by the water sector and in most regions has not pursued alignment with land use.Similarly, the Sustainable Communities Strategies (SCS) mandated through [legislation] establish a framework for aligning land use practices (predominantly housing and transportation) across jurisdictions within a larger geographic region. Yet very few SCSs have taken water resources into account.While water management and land-use planning remain highly fragmented across the state, we are making progress toward a more integrated approach, especially when setting new state-level policies, regulations and guidance. The 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) is a leap forward in this direction. For the first time, local land use agencies have an opportunity to be full partners with water agencies in shaping groundwater governance. It is too soon to determine how well these two sectors are integrating under SGMA, but early results are promising.

Impact of extreme drought and incentive programs on flooded agriculture and wetlands in California’s Central Valley

June 29, 2018

BackgroundBetween 2013 and 2015, a large part of the western United States, including the Central Valley of California, sustained an extreme drought. The Central Valley is recognized as a region of hemispheric importance for waterbirds, which use flooded agriculture and wetlands as habitat. Thus, the impact of drought on the distribution of surface water needed to be assessed to understand the effects on waterbird habitat availability.MethodsWe used remote sensing data to quantify the impact of the recent extreme drought on the timing and extent of waterbird habitat during the non-breeding season (July-May) by examining open water in agriculture (rice, corn, and other crops) and managed wetlands across the Central Valley. We assessed the influence of habitat incentive programs, particularly The Nature Conservancy's BirdReturns and The Natural Resources Conservation Service's Waterbird Habitat Enhancement Program (WHEP), at offsetting habitat loss related to drought.ResultsOverall, we found statistically significant declines in open water in post-harvest agriculture (45-80% declines) and in managed wetlands (39-60% declines) during the 2013-2015 drought compared to non-drought years during the period of 2000-2011. Crops associated with the San Joaquin Basin, specifically corn, as well as wetlands in that part of the Central Valley exhibited larger reductions in open water than rice and wetlands in the Sacramento Valley. Semi-permanent wetlands on protected lands had significantly lower (39-49%) open water in the drought years than those on non-protected lands while seasonal wetlands on protected lands had higher amounts of open water. A large fraction of the daily open water in rice during certain times of the year, particularly in the fall for BirdReturns (61%) and the winter for WHEP (100%), may have been provided through incentive programs which underscores the contribution of these programs. However, further assessment is needed to know how much the incentive programs directly offset the impact of drought in post-harvest rice by influencing water management or simply supplemented funding for activities that might have been done regardless.DiscussionOur landscape analysis documents the significant impacts of the recent extreme drought on freshwater wetland habitats in the Central Valley, the benefits of incentive programs, and the value of using satellite data to track surface water and waterbird habitats. More research is needed to understand subsequent impacts on the freshwater dependent species that rely on these systems and how incentive programs can most strategically support vulnerable species during future extreme drought.