Calif Dems approve sanctuary state bill
AG can’t deny grant money
SACRAMENTO, California, Sept 16, (AP): California Democrats approved a “sanctuary state” bill Saturday that would limit how local and state police can interact with federal immigration agents.
The bill is intended to bolster immigrant protections in the state that are already among the toughest in the nation.
It will now be considered by Gov who announced his support after the top state Senate leader agreed to water down the bill and preserve authority for jail and prison officials to cooperate with immigration officers in many cases.
The legislation is the latest effort by Democratic lawmakers in California, home to an estimated 2.3 million immigrants without legal authorization, to create barriers to President Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to step up deportation efforts. They’ve also approved money for legal assistance and college scholarships for people living illegally in the US, and made it harder for businesses and government agencies to disclose people’s immigration status.
California lawmakers are debating the measure as the US Congress considers offering legal status to young immigrants whose parents brought them into the country illegally or overstayed their visas.
“This comes as a relief that there are some legislators that are really listening,” said Pablo Alvarado, executive director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.
The measure cleared the Legislature with support only from Democrats over the objection of Republicans who it will protect criminals and make it harder for law-enforcement to keep people safe.
Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, introduced SB54 shortly after Trump’s election to cut off most interactions between federal immigration agents and local police and sheriff’s officers. Following sharp dissent from law enforcement officials and Brown’s intervention, it was scaled back significantly.
The final version prohibits law enforcement officials from asking about a person’s immigration status or participating in immigration enforcement efforts. It also prohibits law enforcement officials from being deputized as immigration agents or arresting people on civil immigration warrants.
Police and sheriff’s officials, including jail officers, will still be able to work with federal immigration authorities if a person has been convicted of one of some 800 crimes, mostly felonies and misdemeanors that can be charged as felonies. But they’ll be barred from transferring immigrants to federal authorities if their rap sheet includes only minor offenses.
Immigration advocates generally applauded the latest version, even with de Leon’s concessions. For them, the bill delivers a rare victory during Trump’s presidency, preserving some protections for people in the country illegally and adding others.
The bill will prevent local police from becoming “cogs in the Trump deportation machine,” de Leon said.
California police chiefs dropped their opposition but sheriffs, who run jails where the biggest impacts will be felt, remain opposed.
“In my view this bill’s going to make us less safe,” said Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, R-Templeton. “It’s going to protect the criminal at the expense of the law abiding citizen.”
The changes did not mollify US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Acting Director Thomas Homan, who said the bill will deliberately destruct immigration laws and shelter criminals.
“If California politicians pass this bill, they will be prioritizing politics over the safety and security of their constituents,” Homan said in a statement this week.
Attorney General can’t follow through — at least for now — with his threat to withhold public safety grant money to Chicago and other so-called sanctuary cities for refusing to impose new tough immigration policies, a judge ruled Friday in a legal defeat for the administration.
In what is at least a temporary victory for cities that have defied Sessions, US District Judge
ruled that the Justice Department could not impose the requirements.
He said the city had shown a “likelihood of success” in arguing that Sessions exceeded his authority with the new conditions. Among them are requirements that cities notify immigration agents when someone in the country illegally is about to be released from local jails and to allow agents access to the jails.
Chicago Mayor called the ruling a victory for cities, counties and states nationwide and “a clear statement that the Trump administration is wrong.”
“It means essential resources for public safety will not come with unlawful strings attached, and the Trump justice department cannot continue to coerce us into violating and abandoning our values,” Emanuel said.
The city had asked the judge for a “nationwide” temporary injunction this week, asking the judge not to allow the Justice Department to impose the requirements until the city’s lawsuit against the department plays out in court.
City officials have said such a ruling would prevent the Justice Department from withholding what are called Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants to the cities based on their refusal to take the steps Sessions ordered.
Chicago has applied for $2.2 million in the federal grant money — $1.5 million for the city and the rest for Cook County and 10 other suburbs. But in a recent court hearing, attorneys representing the city said that more than 30 other jurisdictions across the United States filed court briefs supporting Chicago’s lawsuit and have up to $35 million in grants at stake.