On Monday, the California State Senate voted on SB 54 by Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), to head off a Trump Administration plan to enlist state and local police as immigration enforcement agents.
The bill, which was amended last week, “now allows state and local law enforcement to notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) before convicted serious or violent felons are released from custody. Also, the amendments make it easier for local law enforcement to transfer into ICE’s custody criminals who were previously deported for a violent felony.”
According to a release, the changes “clarify that local law enforcement can participate in task forces with ICE as long as the primary purpose of the task force is not immigration enforcement.”
The California Values Act will prevent state, local, and school police from enforcing immigration laws or using their resources to investigate, detain, or arrest individuals for immigration violations.
“The Senate’s passage today of the California Values Act, SB 54, along with SB 6 (Hueso) and SB 31 (Lara), is an acknowledgement of the cultural and economic contributions made to our great state by immigrants and is a rejection of President Trump’s false and cynical portrayal of undocumented residents as a lawless community,” Senator De León said in a statement.
“Undocumented residents commit crimes and are incarcerated at a lower rate than native-born residents. Counties with sanctuary policies are safer and economically better off than comparable non-sanctuary counties. Our communities will become more – not less – dangerous if local police are enlisted to enforce immigration laws,” he continued.
“Our precious local law enforcement resources will be squandered if police are pulled from their duties to arrest otherwise law-abiding maids, busboys, laborers, mothers and fathers. Trust will be lost. Crimes will go unreported for fear of deportation. Criminals will remain free to victimize others,” the Senate leader said.
He added, “To my colleagues in the Assembly: No one wants dangerous or violent criminals roaming our streets. The California Values Act allows state and local law enforcement to notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement before violent or dangerous criminals are released from incarceration and allows their transfer into federal custody for deportation.
“But Californians will not squander their precious public safety dollars to separate mothers from their children, to detain DREAMERS, or to deport honest, hardworking people who are so critical to our economy.”
Here are his remarks from the floor:
Natasha Minsker, Director with the ACLU of California Center for Advocacy and Policy, praised the Senate’s approval of SB 54, SB 31, and SB 6, stating, “Today, California lawmakers affirmed that in California, we don’t build walls. We build movements to keep all families and communities safe, strong, and whole.”
With SB 54, she said, “The California Values Act (de León), California will establish some of the strongest anti-deportation protections in the country. The bill will rightly turn off the valve to the mass deportation pipeline in California, a state that values diversity, public safety, and the humanity of all its residents.”
With SB 6, she said, “The Expanding Due Process Act (Hueso), California will also take an important first step to ensuring that immigrants facing deportation in California have a fair day in court. Now, more than ever, California must do everything in its power to prevent deportations that will separate families, take an incalculable human toll on our communities, and cost the state millions of dollars.”
She added, “While the ACLU will continue to fight the federal government’s Muslim bans in court, we are grateful that California is proactively resisting bigotry with SB 31, The California Religious Freedom Act (Lara). The bill will ensure that California does not take part in any federal Muslim registry and acknowledges that Muslim Americans are our neighbors, friends, and colleagues. They are a part of us. They are us.
“We look forward to continuing to work with lawmakers, our partners, and communities throughout the state to create a fairer and more just world for every single person that calls California home,” Ms. Minsker said, noting that the bills now go to the Assembly for consideration.
The ACLU called these “three key measures to protect and advance the civil liberties and rights of California’s immigrant and Muslim communities.”
—David M. Greenwald reporting