I was born in San Francisco and grew up in Santa Clara Valley. Our three kids and two grandsons were born and raised in California. California is our home. It doesn’t need to be “made great again.” It’s already “the great state of California.”
If you need proof, read this story from the front page of today’s San Francisco Chronicle.
Deal clears path for California statewide sanctuary bill
SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown and state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León announced a deal Monday designed to clear the way for a statewide sanctuary policy that would limit law enforcement’s ability to work with federal authorities to deport undocumented immigrants.
The deal would amend de León’s SB54, which has already cleared the state Senate but ran into trouble in the Assembly in the face of law enforcement opposition. Brown had also expressed reservations about the measure, which would bar local law enforcement agencies from cooperating with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency on deportations except in cases in which immigrants had been convicted of certain crimes.
The deal Brown and de León agreed to Monday adds a number of crimes to the list of those for which immigrants would not be protected, including sex offenses and battery. It also exempts the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation from most aspects of SB54.
“This bill protects public safety and people who come to California to work hard and make this state a better place,” Brown said in a statement.
The changes come as time is running out for lawmakers to pass SB54, which advocates see as a means of countering the Trump administration’s intended crackdown on undocumented immigrants. The final day of the legislative session is Friday, so if the final measure hasn’t passed both the Assembly and Senate by then, it will have to wait at least until lawmakers return in January.
“SB54 will ensure that state and local police are not diverted from protecting our communities in order to enforce federal immigration laws,” said de León, D-Los Angeles. “The protections provided by SB54 will also ensure undocumented residents can report crimes and assist in prosecutions without fear of deportation.”
Republican lawmakers have uniformly opposed the bill, saying Democrats are putting Californians in danger by allowing criminals to avoid deportation, while jeopardizing billions in federal funding. The Trump administration has threatened to withhold grant money from local jurisdictions that have sanctuary laws.
SB54 passed the Senate in April on a party-line vote. It stalled in the Assembly, where a large bloc of moderate Democrats includes several from swing districts who face tough re-election campaigns next year. Brown also indicated the bill would need to be changed to win his approval.
Fearing the bill was being watered down in negotiations with Brown’s office, immigrant rights activists staged several rallies in and around the Capitol in recent days.
Among the amendments added to the bill that eased concerns for immigrant groups were changes made to the state’s Trust Act, which limits the situations in which jails can hold people wanted by immigration agents.
Under the changes, the Trust Act would no longer allow local jails to hold for immigration authorities any inmates cleared for release on their state criminal cases. The Brown-de León deal would also narrow the list of offenses that make undocumented immigrants subject to having their impending release passed along to federal authorities.
“We view this bill as a significant step forward,” said Natasha Minsker, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Sacramento office. “It’s not a cure-all for the problems facing the immigrant community, but we are proud to support it.”
A coalition supporting the bill — including the ACLU of California, Asian Americans Advancing Justice and the California Immigrant Policy Center — said it will add much-needed protections for immigrants.
“Ultimately, SB54 will take us one step closer toward recognizing that all people deserve due process regardless of their background and will help challenge the xenophobic agenda which the federal government — and too many California sheriffs — are pursuing,” the coalition said in a statement.
The California State Sheriffs’ Association has opposed the bill from the start, saying it “provides sanctuary to criminals and it endangers the public.” The association’s president, Sheriff Bill Brown of Santa Barbara County, declined to comment on the deal Monday, saying the group was still waiting to see the amendments.
Following the changes, the California Police Chiefs Association went from opposing the bill to neutral. Gardena Police Chief Ed Medrano, the group’s president, said the changes address public safety concerns with the bill and reaffirm “what we have held since the beginning, which is that California law enforcement should not be used to assist in mass deportations.”
SB54 expands on policies already in place in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland and dozens of other jurisdictions in California. Proponents argue that sanctuary city policies help protect the public by encouraging undocumented immigrants to report crimes without fearing it will lead to their deportation.
Supporters of the bill have put pressure on lawmakers, including by taking out newspaper ads targeting five Democrats in the Assembly last month. The ACLU, Planned Parenthood of California, immigrant rights groups and other supporters paid for the ads that called out Democrats Tim Grayson of Concord, Rudy Salas of Bakersfield, Jacqui Irwin of Thousand Oaks (Ventura County), Sabrina Cervantes of Corona (Riverside County) and Al Muratsuchi of Torrance (Los Angeles County).
In addition to SB54, Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens (Los Angeles County), has introduced a bill that would ban federal immigration agents from entering a public building or school to detain someone without a federal warrant. Lara said the bill, SB187, would ensure immigrants are not discouraged from reporting crimes, attending court or going to a state building to claim benefits like workers compensation.
The Legislature passed AB291 by Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, on Monday, which strengthens protections for immigrants facing retaliation or intimidation from landlords over their immigration status.
Melody Gutierrez is a
San Francisco Chronicle
staff writer. Email:
Sanctuary state bill
SB54 would limit local and state law enforcement’s ability to work with federal immigration officials. Changes made Monday to the bill would:
Allow law enforcement to work with federal officials on task forces targeting drug or human trafficking cases, but not immigration raids.
Let immigration officials interview people in jail.
Give immigration agents access to some law enforcement databases.
Exempt the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation from most provisions of the measure.
Prohibit law enforcement from asking about a person’s immigration status or participating in border patrol activities.
Ban local jails from holding undocumented immigrants after they are cleared for release in their state criminal cases.