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Gov. Jerry Brown Signs Bill Officially Making California a “Sanctuary State”

pexels-photo-164183-300x200In a move that cements California’s refusal to join the Trump administration’s anti-immigration crusade, California Governor Jerry Brown has just signed a bill limiting the cooperation between federal immigration agencies and local law enforcement, effectively making the Golden State a so-called “sanctuary state.”

California Senate Bill 54 (SB54), authored by California Senate President Kevin de León, provides for several measures for the protection of California’s immigrants.

  • The bill bans federal immigration detainer requests or the deemed-unconstitutional local detention of federal suspects without local charges.
  • The bill also prohibits federal agencies from consigning federal tasks and duties to local law enforcement, effectively blocking the deputization of local officers as federal agents.
  • Lastly, the bill explicitly outlaws inquiring into an individual’s immigration status during routine interactions with local police.

Federal agencies will also no longer be able to use California law enforcement facilities for detention purposes save for the contracts already in place – Orange County’s current arrangement with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, for one.

Brown and De León clarify, however, that the law by no means prohibits federal agents from going about their regular operations in enforcing federal immigration law.

“They (federal agents) are free to use their own considerable resources to enforce federal immigration law in California,” writes Governor Brown in a signing statement addressed to the California State Senate. Immigration authorities, Brown promises, may also continue to access California jails for routine interviews.

SB54 is not the first iteration of a “sanctuary state” bill. Previous versions were considered too broad in scope until it was modified to primarily deal with immigration concerns in local law enforcement. It now contains an expanded list of crimes that may prompt law enforcement to call the attention of immigration authorities.

The bill was intended to settle the growing distrust between California residents and their local law enforcement. As in several other states across the country, the Golden State’s safety and security took a hit as more and more crimes went unreported – individuals evading encounters with local law enforcement for fear of exposing their immigration status.

SB54, however, points out: “A relationship of trust between California’s immigrant community and state and local agencies is central to the public safety of the people of California. This trust is threatened when state and local agencies are entangled with federal immigration enforcement, with the result that immigrant community members fear approaching police when they are victims of, and witnesses to, crimes, seeking basic health services, or attending school, to the detriment of public safety and the well-being of all Californians.”

Taking effect on January 1, 2018, SB54 is the complete antithesis of another bill recently signed into law – Texas SB 4, which penalizes local law enforcers for failing to comply with federal immigration agents either by refusing to inquire into the immigration status of a detained individual or by withholding that information from federal agencies.

For further updates on SB4, be sure to follow this blog. If you or anyone you know has been a victim of profiling and questionable detention because of your immigration status, talk to the legal team of the Lyttle Law Firm. Contact our offices to speak with Austin immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle.