Fresno Sheriff’s Attendance at Anti-Sanctuary Meetup Raises Questions

Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims is under scrutiny for a meeting she attended last year in which attendees were educated on opposing California’s sanctuary state law, SB 54.

Details of the event are scant because no media was present and the Fresno County Republican Party, which organized the event, deliberately concealed the identity of attendees. Mims’ participation only came to light as a result of a Public Records Act request filed by the ACLU.

Interestingly, four months after the meeting, County News reported on complaints by the county public defender’s office that FCSD was using creative tactics to exploit loopholes in SB 54. Maria Romani of the ACLU of Northern California told the Fresno Bee that participants were at the meeting to “strategize how to undermine the California Values Act (SB 54).”

But it’s the other people present at the conference that has most concerned civil liberties advocates. The Bee reports that two executives with the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) were there to speak. The Southern Poverty Law Center has branded FAIR a “hate group” and says its members have ties to white supremacists. Mims says she was unaware of the group’s designation by the SPLC.

Other local law enforcement leaders from California were likely also in attendance. Mims forwarded the invitation to Kings County Sheriff David Robinson, Madera County Sheriff Jay Varney, Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux, Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke, and Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood. So far, Warnke, Boudreaux, and Robinson have denied attending the meeting.

“It’s a little scary that there's no transparency,” Romani told the Bee.

The publication reached out to Mims for further comment on the meeting. She reiterated her belief — shared by a number of other county sheriffs — that SB 54 undermines law enforcement’s efforts to keep communities safe, adding “my opinion is that the law needs to be repealed.”