State Legislators pass bill to make California a 'sanctuary state'

Posted September 17, 2017

California lawmakers voted to become a sanctuary state, tussled over hot-button environmental issues and urged other states to refuse to cooperate with President Donald Trump's Election Integrity Commission as their legislative year ended early on Saturday. The bill, known as SB54, bans law enforcement officials from asking about the immigration status of people under arrest, and prevents local police from being "deputized as immigration agents", The Associated Press reports.

The measure, SB-54, passed by a 49-25 vote.

- California is one step closer to becoming a so-called Sanctuary State. Jerry Brown's desk doesn't go as far as the first version. However, in a concession to Governor Brown, Democrats agreed the state prison system would be exempted from most of the requirements.

But the law has backers too: San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, who simply called it "a reasonable streamlining bill", and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff, who said in August, "We need to plan and prepare for accommodating diverse populations and more dense development in our existing footprint".

Kevin de León of Los Angeles passed with a final vote of 27 to 11. But they'll be barred from transferring immigrants to federal authorities if their rap sheet includes only minor offenses.

In an emotional debate that brought lawmakers on both sides to tears, supporters said the law is needed now more than ever. The compromise helped shift the Police Chiefs Association's stance to "neutral". "It sends a very clear message to the Trump administration that in California we value inclusivity, we value diversity", De Leon said. The Trump administration is playing politics with public safety.

A federal judge in Chicago ruled Friday that Attorney General Jeff Sessions can not follow through with his threat to withhold public safety grant money to so-called sanctuary cities for refusing his order to impose tough immigration policies. Under the additions to the bill, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation would have to develop new standards to protect people held on immigration violations, and to allow immigrant inmates to receive credits toward their sentences serviced if they undergo rehabilitation and educational programs while incarcerated.