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California State Senate Green Lights Pro-Immigrant Bill

In a move that protests President Donald Trump’s “false and cynical portrayal” of undocumented immigrants, California lawmakers have recently pushed two bills that would fund legal assistance for individuals trying to fight deportation, all while blocking U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials from forcing local law enforcement agencies to detain undocumented immigrants for the federal government to deport.

In a press release, state Senate Majority Leader and Senate President pro Tempore Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) said, “The Senate’s passage today of the California Values Act 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.”

Senate Bill 54, also known as the California Values Act, would “prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies, including school police and security departments, from using resources to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect, or arrest persons for immigration enforcement purposes.” It would also prohibit local law enforcement agencies from making arrests based on civil immigration warrants.

The bill cleared the Senate on a party-line vote and is due to be voted on by the state Assembly.

De Leon first introduced the bill in December last year as a preemptive strike against then President-elect Donald Trump, blocking any attempts by ICE to coerce local law enforcement agencies from holding undocumented immigrants for deportation.

In the months that followed, De Leon has had to amend the bill 4 times after meeting resistance from state law enforcement agencies. The bill also lost its urgency status, which would have fast-tracked the law if it received a two-thirds majority in both chambers and approval from the governor, taking effect on January 1, 2018.

The latest version of SB 54 would require state corrections and parole officers to notify immigration officials at least 60 days before the scheduled release date of an undocumented immigrant convicted of criminal charges.

The bill comes amid growing tensions among immigrant communities in California. According to Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), Trumps anti-immigration measures are tearing families apart and making communities less safe, what with immigrants now reluctant to report crimes and serve as witnesses for fear of being deported from the country.

“The bills we passed today will help protect our immigrant neighbors, but they won’t deter President Trump and his allies from continuing to demonize and slander members of our community,” he said.

The measure, however, has met stiff opposition from California Republicans and state law enforcement agencies, who warn that becoming a so-called sanctuary city for immigrants could cost the state billions of dollars in federal funding.

In Texas, Travis County and its county seat Austin are facing similar pressure for refusing to collaborate with ICE. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has already blocked Travis from receiving a number of state grants after its newly elected sheriff announced her jails would no longer accommodate immigration requests for detention.

If you, or a loved one, need to learn more about sanctuary city policies, don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation with immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle of the Lyttle Law Firm.

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