SALINAS, Calif. - UPDATE 9/15/2017 5:40 p.m.:
The so-called Sanctuary State bill is one step closer to becoming law. On Friday afternoon, the assembly passed SB 54 in a 50-25 vote. The bill would expand protections for undocumented immigrants who come into contact with law enforcement.
The legislation stops law enforcement officers from asking a person’s immigration status, doesn’t allow them to take part in immigration enforcement, stops them from arresting people on civil immigration warrants or act as deputized immigration enforcement officers.
Senate Leader Kevin De León introduced the bill but watered part of it down to win California Governor Jerry Brown’s support. Jail and prison officials will still be able to work with federal immigration authorities on certain cases and there’s a longer list of crimes that would be exempt from these restrictions.
Support has been mixed on the Central Coast. The sheriff’s association, including the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office, opposed the bill. While deputies do not inquire about a person’s status, they say they’re more concerned about public safety.
"We have been opposed to SB 54 for the one very simple reason that it severs communication between the Sheriff's Office and the federal government,” said Cmdr. John Thornburg. “And the whole goal there isn't to enforce immigration law. As we have said numerous times before, deputies are not out enforcing immigration, asking immigration, they have nothing to do with it. They simply allow ICE to sit at the jail and do their work. And the biggest thing is, we're trying not to cut off a channel of communication that helps us protect the community because the sheriff's biggest concern is we end up releasing somebody back into the community, who shouldn't have been released."
However, Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart sent a letter of support to De León, saying the legislation “provides a clear delineation between local law enforcement and the federal government and will strengthen trust with all of the communities we are sworn to protect and serve.”
After the assembly vote, Sheriff Hart released a new statement reading:
“This bill allows for a consistent state wide approach towards immigration enforcement and does not burden local police and sheriffs with doing the federal government's work. I am glad to see that state legislators support a common sense approach towards immigration enforcement and I am confident this bill will reduce the net widening that broad federal immigration policy is casting.”
Salinas resident Nancy Haro believes undocumented immigrants are afraid to come forward to report crime out of fear of deportation. She believes local law enforcement should not cooperate with federal immigration officers at all. She believes the passage of SB 54 would send a strong message to the country.
"It is a statement,” Haro said. “And I think there's that fear, you know they can essentially do whatever they want. But I think as a state coming together that way, it is empowering to the people of California and hopefully will be a message sent to the rest of the U.S. and to other states who will be able to say, ‘Hey, maybe we should do that too.’"
Though she questions how it would be implemented. People on Facebook are also questioning the authorities of lawmakers.
One user writes: "Really seems like something the citizens should be voting on and not the government. Since we are the ones supporting, paying and dealing with the after effects."
Assembly member Mark Stone made some remarks ahead of the vote, bringing up ICE’s sweeps in Santa Cruz County earlier this year. While he agreed getting gang members off the streets was good, he also spoke about how a young mother of three is now facing deportation because she was picked up during the raids as well.
UPDATE: 9/15/2017 2:42 p.m. The California Assembly passes Sanctuary State bill 49-25.
A “sanctuary state” bill would expand protections for people living in the country illegally who come into contact with law enforcement.
The Senate must pass the bill in order for Governor Jerry Brown to sign.
California lawmakers are preparing to vote on a “sanctuary state” bill that would expand protections for people living in the country illegally who come into contact with law enforcement.
The Assembly and Senate are scheduled to vote Friday on the legislation, which would bolster immigrant protections that are already among the toughest in the nation. Their approval would send it to Gov. Jerry Brown, who announced his support this week after the top Senate leader, the bill’s author, agreed to water it down 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 to create barriers for President Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to step up deportation efforts.
Santa Cruz County Sheriff, Jim Hart wrote a letter in support of Senate Bill 54:
KION's Mariana Hicks will have the latest on what California lawmakers decide for the "sanctuary state" bill at 5 and 6 p.m.