Cal­i­for­nia ad­vances new sanc­tu­ary bill

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NEWS - JONATHAN J. COOPER

Cal­i­for­nia law­mak­ers are de­bat­ing the mea­sure as the U.S. Congress con­sid­ers of­fer­ing le­gal sta­tus to young il­le­gal im­mi­grants who were brought into the coun­try as chil­dren.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — 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. 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 il­le­gal aliens, to cre­ate bar­ri­ers to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s cam­paign pledge to step up de­por­ta­tion ef­forts. The law­mak­ers 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 il­le­gal im­mi­grants who were brought into the coun­try as chil­dren.

“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 of­fi­cials to keep people safe.

Se­nate Pres­i­dent Pro Tem­pore Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, in­tro­duced Se­nate Bill 54 shortly after Trump’s elec­tion to cut off most in­ter­ac­tions be­tween federal im­mi­gra­tion agents, and lo­cal po­lice and sher­iff’s of­fi­cers. After 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 sheets in­clude 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 to the bill.

“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 U.S. 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.

As law­mak­ers con­sid­ered the bill Fri­day, an­other high-pro­file killing in San Francisco spot­lighted the sanc­tu­ary is­sue. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment dis­closed that two weeks ago, be­fore 18-year-old Erick Gar­cia-Pineda was a mur­der sus­pect, the San Francisco sher­iff’s of­fice de­nied a re­quest to hold him un­til federal au­thor­i­ties could take him into cus­tody for de­por­ta­tion pro­ceed­ings.

Cal­i­for­nia’s Demo­cratic po­lit­i­cal lead­ers have po­si­tioned the na­tion’s largest state as a foil to Trump and his ad­min­is­tra­tion. They’ve passed leg­is­la­tion and filed law­suits aimed at pro­tect­ing im­mi­grants, com­bat­ing cli­mate change and block­ing any fu­ture at­tempt to build a reg­istry of Mus­lims.

A federal judge in Chicago ruled Fri­day that At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions can­not fol­low through with his threat to with­hold pub­lic safety grant money to so-called sanc­tu­ary cities for re­fus­ing his or­der to im­pose tough im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies.

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