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Calif. Senate Advances "Sanctuary State" And Other Bills Responding To Trump

Alan Cordova / Flickr

Alan Cordova / Flickr

Update 5:44 p.m.: Days after President Donald Trump signed an executive order to strip federal funding from sanctuary cities, the California Senate has advanced legislation that would extend those policies statewide.

The Senate measure would generally prevent local and state law enforcement from working with federal immigration agents, unless they have a warrant. Senate Democrats argued it would shield immigrants who commit minor infractions from punitive federal policies, while Republicans countered it would prevent deportation of serious criminals.

Republican Senator Jeff Stone said the measure would enact “sanctuary city” policies across the state.

"I’m concerned not only about the safety of the residents of the State of California, I’m concerned about the promise of this president to take away significant federal funds," Stone said.

Democratic Senate Leader Kevin de León argued it prevents local law enforcement from doing the job of federal immigration agencies, but does not impede those departments.

"When Homeland Security or the FBI want to engage and want someone, they usually have a list, and they produce a judicial warrant," said Kevin de León. "This measure doesn’t prohibit that."

That argument will likely be tested in court. It falls along similar lines as those in a lawsuit the City of San Francisco launched Tuesday against the President's executive order.
Capital Public Radio spoke with the former federal head of civil immigration litigation about potential effects of the president's order.

Law enforcement was divided on the Senate measure. Cory Salzillo of the California State Sheriffs Association says it would constrain sheriffs from giving even simple answers about whether someone is in custody.

"We have a need and a desire to work together with law enforcement from all levels of government to keep our communities safe," Salzillo said.

But John Lovell with the California College and University Police Chiefs Association says the law would encourage people without legal documentation and their families to report crimes.

"It’s just axiomatic that if you intertwine immigration enforcement with front line law enforcement, front line law enforcement will suffer," said Lovell.

The Senate Public Safety Committee approved the measure along party lines. It now moves to the Appropriations committee.

Another Senate committee voted Tuesday for a measure that would provide state-funded legal services to immigrants facing deportation.

The committee also approved legislation that would prevent California agencies from cooperating with the creation of religious lists.

Democrats introduced all three measures after the November election, as a response to campaign statements from President Trump.

UPDATE 11:17 a.m.: (AP) - Legislative Democrats in California are advancing a bill that would restrict local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration authorities.

The Senate Public Safety Committee approved SB54 in a 5-2 party-line vote on Tuesday.

The measure would create a border-to-border sanctuary in the nation's largest state. It's California Democrats' first formal action to resist President Donald Trump's immigration policies.

Democrats say the legislation is necessary to prevent the fear of deportation in families where some members are living in California without authorization.

Representatives from law enforcement groups say cooperation among all levels of law enforcement are necessary to keep people safe.

The legislation goes next to the Senate Appropriations Committee. It's advancing less than a week after Trump signed an order threatening to withdraw some federal grants from sanctuary cities.

Original Post: (AP) - California may prohibit local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration authorities, creating a border-to-border sanctuary in the nation's largest state.

The legislation is scheduled for its first public hearing in a Senate committee Tuesday as legislative Democrats ramp up their efforts to battle President Donald Trump's immigration policies.

Many of California's largest cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento have so-called sanctuary policies that prohibit police from cooperating with immigration authorities. But much of the state does not.

The Democratic legislation comes up for debate less than a week after Trump signed an order threatening to withdraw some federal grants from jurisdictions that bar officials from communicating with federal authorities about someone's immigration status.

Some Republicans have criticized Democrats for rushing to do battle with the Republican president.

Ben Bradford

Former State Government Reporter

As the State Government Reporter, Ben covered California politics, policy and the interaction between the two. He previously reported on local and state politics, business, energy, and environment for WFAE in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Read Full Bio 

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