On Monday the California state Senate made good on its bluster in defiance of the Trump administration and passed SB54, a bill that would prohibit local police and sheriff’s deputies throughout the state from enforcing federal immigration laws or turning undocumented people over to ICE. Despite the many conservative corners of the state that support the president's stance on immigration, as the Chronicle reports, the bill would force their hand in acting more like the liberal cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Oakland in protecting illegal immigrants.
The bill was introduced in December by Senate President Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), who said at the time, "We will not stand by and let the federal government use our state and local agencies to separate mothers from their children." On Monday, de León said, "This is about making our communities safer, not less safe," referring to the argument often used in supporting sanctuary city policies that by adopting such a policy you make undocumented people more comfortable with reporting crimes and acting as witnesses when crimes occur, without fear of deportation.
“This bill makes clear that California will not become an arm of ICE," said SF Senator Scott Wiener in a statement. “That we will not allow our employees, our law enforcement from becoming de facto immigration officers... This bill is about people who are just trying to live their lives; people who are living in fear because of the political atmosphere."
If the bill passes the state Assembly, law enforcement agencies throughout California would be prohibited from asking people about their immigration status, or providing information about undocumented people to federal authorities.
President Trump has already threatened to use federal funds as a "weapon" against "out-of-control California" if this bill passes.
As the Sacramento Bee reports, the bill faced heavy opposition from law enforcement, and thus several amendments were added, including one that allows the Board of Parole Hearings or the Department of Corrections to notify ICE up to 60 days before the release of an undocumented immigrant who was in prison here for a violent felony conviction.
Violent and serious felony offenders can still be deported under the bill, but Republicans in the state Senate still were not happy with with the bill, and it passed on a party-line vote of 27-12.
"This bill is unsafe," said Senator Jeff Stone (R-Temecula), via the Sacramento Bee. "This bill is unlawful. This bill is designed to make California a sanctuary for certain dangerous criminals."
In a statement from the Senate floor, as the Chronicle reports, Senator Joel Anderson (R-San Diego) said, "Don’t get caught up with ‘I hate Trump’ fever. SB54 is the wrong direction."
Other Republican senators argued that the bill is a threat to innocent immigrants, like innocent "dreamers," the children of immigrants, who might get rounded up in school raids if ICE is forced to do all their own work.
SB54 would, however, ban immigration enforcement in state schools, health facilities and courthouses.
As the Bee reports, the bill initially was given urgency status, meaning it would have taken effect as soon as the governor signed it, but last week de León removed that status, meaning the bill would not take effect until January 1, 2018, if it passes the Assembly.