California is soon to be a “sanctuary state” after Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill on Thursday limiting federal authorities’ enforcement of immigration across the state.
Under the law, which takes effect in January, California will not help federal agents deport people who are undocumented and local authorities will not inquire about immigration status during routine interactions.
Senate Bill 54 aims to protect families while continuing to deport felons and criminals who are undocumented.
“These are uncertain times for undocumented Californians and their families and this bill strikes a balance that will protect public safety while bringing a measure of comfort to those families who are now living in fear every day,” Brown wrote in a letter to the State Senate.
Local officials will not do the work of immigration officials and unconstitutional detainer requests will be banned.
Brown assures the bill does not prevent Immigration and Customs Enforcement or the Department of Homeland Security from continuing to do their work as usual. Federal authorities will still be allowed to enter county jails to question immigrants and work with state corrections officials.
Senator Henry Stern (D-Canoga Park) was the only one of Santa Clarita’s elected officials to vote in favor of the legislation.
“If you are living here, paying your taxes, obeying the law, the State of California should not be looking for ways to deport you,” Stern said. “In fact, we need you.”
Protecting families who are contributing to California while maintaining zero-tolerance for criminals makes this legislation effective, the senator said.
“If you’re breaking the law, committing crimes and being a drain on society, you become a liability to our community and should be subject to federal immigration enforcement,” he said. “This bill strikes that balance (of having) no sanctuary for criminals but maintaining the stability and fabric of the immigrant families that make us stronger as a whole.”
Assemblyman Dante Acosta (R-Santa Clarita), Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) and Senator Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) voted against the bill when it was moving through the legislature. None were available for comment.
The California State Sheriff’s Association formally opposed the legislation in September, saying limiting local law enforcement’s cooperation with federal law enforcement is a danger to public safety.
“In the end, we cannot support legislation that limits our ability to protect our communities in a symbolic attempt to impact federal law and policy,” the association said in a statement on Sept. 12.