California passes “sanctuary state” bill

Last Updated Sep 16, 2017 4:23 PM EDT

California Democrats approved a “sanctuary state” bill Saturday that would limit how local and state police can interact with federal immigration agents.

The bill is intended to bolster immigrant protections in the state that are already among the toughest in the nation.

It will now be considered by Gov. Jerry Brown, who announced his support after the top state Senate leader agreed to water down the bill and preserve authority for jail and prison officials to cooperate with immigration officers in many cases.

The legislation is the latest effort by Democratic lawmakers in California, home to an estimated 2.3 million immigrants without legal authorization, to create barriers to President Trump’s campaign pledge to step up deportation efforts. They’ve also approved money for legal assistance and college scholarships for people living illegally in the U.S., and made it harder for businesses and government agencies to disclose people’s immigration status.

California lawmakers are debating the measure as Congress considers offering legal status to young immigrants whose parents brought them into the country illegally or overstayed their visas.

“This comes as a relief that there are some legislators that are really listening,” said Pablo Alvarado, executive director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.

The measure cleared the Legislature with support only from Democrats over the objection of Republicans who it will protect criminals and make it harder for law-enforcement to keep people safe.

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, introduced SB54 shortly after Mr. Trump’s election to cut off most interactions between federal immigration agents and local police and sheriff’s officers. Following sharp dissent from law enforcement officials and Brown’s intervention, it was scaled back significantly.

The final version prohibits law enforcement officials from asking about a person’s immigration status or participating in immigration enforcement efforts. It also prohibits law enforcement officials from being deputized as immigration agents or arresting people on civil immigration warrants.

Police and sheriff’s officials, including jail officers, will still be able to work with federal immigration authorities if a person has been convicted of one of some 800 crimes, mostly felonies and misdemeanors that can be charged as felonies. But they’ll…

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