California Democratic lawmakers move to become ‘sanctuary state’
California Senate Democrats moved Tuesday to become the first “sanctuary state,” advancing bills that would create a statewide sanctuary for illegal immigrants, provide money to pay lawyers for immigrants facing deportation and hamper any attempts by the Trump administration to create a Muslim registry.
The move comes days after President Trump launched his crackdown on immigration and sanctuary cities across the nation.
San Francisco filed a lawsuit against Trump earlier Tuesday, claiming his executive order that would cut funding from sanctuary cities is unconstitutional and a “severe invasion of San Francisco’s sovereignty.”
San Francisco receives about $1.2 billion a year in federal funding for services that include housing, health and social services, and homelessness.
In Sacramento, Democrats on the state Senate Public Safety Committee voted along party lines to prohibit state and local law enforcement from cooperating with customs agents
“We want to make sure that police officers don’t abandon their beat and go enforce immigration laws,” said Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon of Los Angeles, author of the statewide sanctuary measure.
Republicans and law enforcement groups said the bill would make it harder for authorities to work together to fight crime.
“I think this bill is making it that much more difficult for the federal authorities to get the most dangerous criminals that we want to deport to keep our communities safe,” said Sen. Jeff Stone, a Temecula Republican who voted against the measure.
We the People Rising, a group which favors strict immigration laws, came out against the bill. The Mercury News reported that the California Police Chiefs Association and the Peace Officers Research Association of California have not commented on the legislation
Hours after the sanctuary legislation advanced, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved two other measures that take direct aim at Trump’s policies.
In another party-line vote, Democrats backed legislation to provide an unspecified amount of money for lawyers to represent people facing deportation.
The committee also passed a bill prohibiting state and local government officials from assisting in the creation of a possible Muslim registry. Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, said he wrote the bill in response to statements by Trump during his presidential campaign.
Months ago, Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
The president last week signed an executive order temporarily halting migration from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Many of California’s largest cities, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento, already have sanctuary policies that prohibit police from cooperating with immigration officials. The state is already home to an estimated 2.3 million illegal immigrants. SB54 would extend those policies statewide, prohibiting police officers and jailers from arresting or detaining people solely for immigration violations unless a judge issues a warrant.
According to The Mercury News, the 2013 California Trust Act restricts law enforcement’s abilities to detain someone for immigration authorities after they are allowed to go free. The paper reports the new measure would also prevent agencies from collecting illegal immigrants’ legal status or responding to requests for personal information.
The sanctuary legislation now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.