Calif. Dems ap­prove new bill

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Jonathan J. Cooper

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 SB-54, 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 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.

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