California lawmakers approve dialed-back ‘sanctuary state’ bill
1 SACRAMENTO, CALIF. >> California lawmakers on Saturday passed a “sanctuary state” bill to protect immigrants without legal residency in the U.S., part of a broader push by Democrats to counter expanded deportation orders under the Trump administration.
The legislation by Democratic Sen. Kevin de Leon, the most far-reaching of its kind in the country, would limit state and local law enforcement communication with federal immigration authorities, and prevent officers from questioning and holding people on immigration violations.
After passionate debate in both houses of the Legislature, staunch opposition from Republican sheriffs and threats from Trump administration officials against sanctuary cities, Senate Bill 54 was approved Saturday by a 27-11 vote along party lines. But the bill sent to Gov. Jerry Brown drastically scaled back the version first introduced, the result of tough negotiations between Brown and De Leon in the final weeks of the legislative session.
The decision came hours after a federal judge in Chicago blocked the Trump administration’s move to withhold Justice Department grant funds to discourage so-called sanctuary city policies.
On the Senate floor minutes before 2 a.m. on Saturday, De Leon said the changes were reasonable, and reflected a powerful compromise between law enforcement officials and advocates.
Officially dubbed the California Values Act, the legislation initially would have prohibited state and local law enforcement agencies from using any resources to hold or question people or share information about them with federal immigration agents unless they had violent or serious criminal convictions.
After the negotiations with Brown, amendments made to the bill would allow federal immigration authorities to keep working with state corrections officials and to continue entering county jails to question immigrants. The legislation would also permit police and sheriffs to share information and transfer people to immigration authorities if they have been convicted of one or more crimes from a list of 800 outlined in a previous law.