California passes sanctuary bill
Measure boosting protections for immigrants heads to Brown
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California lawmakers approved a “sanctuary state” bill on Saturday that would put new restrictions on interactions between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities, drawing the ire of federal officials who argued the legislation prioritizes politics over public safety.
The bill, known as SB54, is intended to bolster the state’s immigrant protections, which are already among the toughest in the nation.
The legislation will now be considered by Gov. Jerry Brown, 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 U.S., and made it harder for businesses and government agencies to disclose people’s immigration status.
California lawmakers are debating the measure as the U.S. 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 say 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 prohibits law enforcement officials from being deputized as immigration agents or arresting people on civil immigration warrants.
California police chiefs dropped their opposition but sheriffs, who run jails where the biggest impacts will be felt, remain opposed.