‘Sanc­tu­ary’ bill gains sup­port

Scaled back in tough ne­go­ti­a­tions, the Cal­i­for­nia Val­ues Act goes to Gov. Brown.

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - By Gale Hol­land ghol­land@la­times.com Times staff writ­ers Jazmine Ulloa and Andrea Castillo con­trib­uted to this re­port.

L.A. elected of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing an early op­po­nent, back the re­vised leg­is­la­tion on im­mi­grants.

Cal­i­for­nia’s new “sanc­tu­ary state” bill lim­it­ing lo­cal law en­force­ment co­op­er­a­tion with fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion agents drew sup­port Satur­day from Los An­ge­les of­fi­cials, but a sting­ing re­buke from the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, whose Jus­tice De­part­ment said the mea­sure “un­der­mines na­tional se­cu­rity and law en­force­ment.”

Mayor Eric Garcetti said he was “grate­ful” to the Leg­is­la­ture, while Po­lice Chief Char­lie Beck said the bill built on 40 years of the city’s ef­forts to fos­ter trust in im­mi­grant com­mu­ni­ties.

“We are com­mit­ted to re­duc­ing crime through com­mu­nity part­ner­ships and con­sti­tu­tional polic­ing,” Beck said.

The leg­is­la­tion passed early Satur­day scaled back the ver­sion first in­tro­duced, the re­sult of tough ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween Gov. Jerry Brown and the bill’s au­thor, Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los An­ge­les), in the fi­nal weeks of the leg­isla­tive ses­sion. The bill, SB 54, must still be signed by the gov­er­nor.

Los An­ge­les County Sher­iff Jim McDon­nell, an early and prom­i­nent op­po­nent of the bill, said the changes had sat­is­fied his con­cerns that it would hurt im­mi­grants more than it would help them.

“While not per­fect, [the bill] kept in­tact our abil­ity to main­tain part­ner­ships with fed­eral law en­force­ment of­fi­cials who help us in the fight against gangs, drugs and hu­man traf­fick­ing,” McDon­nell said in a state­ment. “It also retains the con­trolled ac­cess that the United States Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment has to our jails.”

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, which ear­lier threat­ened to with­hold fed­eral grants from sanc­tu­ary cities, warned that the bill threat­ened public safety.

“Just last month an­other il­le­gal alien al­legedly killed a com­mu­nity vol­un­teer, yet state law­mak­ers in­ex­pli­ca­bly voted to­day to re­turn crim­i­nal aliens back onto our streets,” said Devin O’Mal­ley, a spokesman for the U.S De­part­ment of Jus­tice. “This aban­don­ment of the rule of law by the Leg­is­la­ture con­tin­ues to put Cal­i­for­ni­ans at risk, and un­der­mines na­tional se­cu­rity and law en­force­ment.”

Called the Cal­i­for­nia Val­ues Act, the sanc­tu­ary bill ini­tially would have barred state and lo­cal law en­force­ment from hold­ing, ques­tion­ing or shar­ing in­for­ma­tion with fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion agents about im­mi­grants in cus­tody un­less the im­mi­grants had vi­o­lent or se­ri­ous crim­i­nal con­vic­tions.

McDon­nell had bro­ken ranks with other L.A. elected of­fi­cials by op­pos­ing the ini­tial leg­is­la­tion, ar­gu­ing that if im­mi­gra­tion agents could not pick up peo­ple from the jails, they would go look­ing for them in the streets, spread­ing fear and cur­tail­ing im­mi­grants’ co­op­er­a­tion in crim­i­nal cases.

The amended 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, the Cal­i­for­nia Trust Act.

Un­der added pro­vi­sions of the bill, how­ever, the Cal­i­for­nia De­part­ment of Cor­rec­tions and Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion would have to de­velop new stan­dards to pro­tect peo­ple held on im­mi­gra­tion vi­o­la­tions, and to al­low im­mi­grant in­mates to re­ceive credit to­ward their sen­tences for time served if they com­plete re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and ed­u­ca­tional pro­grams while in­car­cer­ated.

The state at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice would have to de­velop rec­om­men­da­tions that limit im­mi­gra­tion agents’ ac­cess to per­sonal in­for­ma­tion. The at­tor­ney gen­eral also has broad author­ity un­der the state Con­sti­tu­tion to en­sure that po­lice and sher­iffs’ agen­cies fol­low SB 54’s pro­vi­sions should it be signed into law.

More than 150 com­mu­ni­ties have laws or poli­cies that re­strict the abil­ity of po­lice and jails to hand over peo­ple who are in the coun­try il­le­gally to fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cers. The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion in April warned nine ju­ris­dic­tions, in­clud­ing Chicago, Las Vegas, Miami, New Or­leans and New York, that they risked los­ing fed­eral grants by sidestep­ping co­op­er­a­tion with fed­eral agen­cies.

Top politi­cians in Los An­ge­les — a ful­crum of Trump re­sis­tance — had avoided the sanc­tu­ary la­bel. But the City Coun­cil this month moved to de­clare L.A. a “city of sanc­tu­ary,” in re­sponse to Trump’s Au­gust an­nounce­ment that he would un­wind a pro­gram pro­tect­ing im­mi­grants brought to the U.S. as chil­dren.

Pablo Al­varado, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Day La­borer Or­ga­niz­ing Net­work, said the bill achieved only “in­cre­men­tal” progress, and he called on lo­cal law en­force­ment to fully im­ple­ment its pro­vi­sions.

“The scape­goat­ing and per­se­cu­tion of im­mi­grants is what has made our com­mu­nity un­safe,” he said. “With this bill, our state is telling Trump: ‘Mr. Trump, you can keep your money. We’ll keep our im­mi­grant com­mu­nity.’ ”

Mar­cus Yam Los An­ge­les Times

SHER­IFF Jim McDon­nell, who op­posed the ini­tial leg­is­la­tion, said its re­vi­sions had sat­is­fied his con­cerns that it would hurt im­mi­grants more than help them.

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