Jerry Brown signs bill making California a sanctuary state

Finally, some good news that many members of our community have been waiting to hear!

Read the SF Chronicle story here.

Updated 11:22 am, Thursday, October 5, 2017

SACRAMENTO — California will beef up protections for undocumented immigrants beginning in January under a controversial new law Gov. Jerry Brown signed Thursday to create a statewide sanctuary policy.

Brown signed the bill and 10 other immigration-related bills on the same day as a critical deadline for immigrants aided by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, who must file by Thursday for a final two-year extension before the program is phased out.

SB54, by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, limits when local law enforcement agencies can help federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency on deportations cases to instances where an immigrant has been convicted of certain crimes. The law, considered the most-far reaching sanctuary policy of its kind, goes into effect Jan. 1.

“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 his signing message on SB54.

 Brown initially expressed concern about some of the bill’s provisions, but worked with de León on a compromise in September that cleared the way for the bill to pass the Legislature and reach his desk.

The law bars law enforcement officers in the state from asking about a person’s immigration status or participating in any joint task force with federal officials for the purpose of enforcing immigration laws.

The new law makes changes to the state’s Trust Act by barring local jails from holding an inmate for immigration authorities if that person is cleared for release on their state criminal cases. The law also limits the list of offenses that make undocumented immigrants subject to having their impending release passed along to federal authorities.

Supporters say the policies are needed to ensure undocumented immigrants do not fear deportation when they report crimes to law enforcement. Cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland and dozens of other jurisdictions in California already have sanctuary policies.

“With the stroke of a pen, the governor made good on his promise to ‘defend everybody — every man, woman and child — who has come here for a better life and has contributed to the well-being of our state,” said Jennie Pasquarella, immigrants’ rights director at the American Civil Liberties Union of California.

Critics argued that the bill puts Californians in danger by allowing criminals to avoid deportation, while jeopardizing billions in federal funding. Changes made in the final days of the legislative session to the bill exempted immigrants with prior convictions for an estimated 800 crimes from the protections offered in the law. The law also exempts the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation from most aspects of SB54, but requires prisons to have written consent from an inmate before allowing federal immigration agents to interview them.

Thomas Homan, the acting director of ICE, said in a statement last month that “by passing this bill, California politicians have chosen to prioritize politics over public safety.

“Disturbingly, the legislation serves to codify a dangerous policy that deliberately obstructs our country’s immigration laws and shelters serious criminal alien offenders,” Homan said.

Brown also signed AB450 by Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, which requires employers to ask for a judicial warrant before allowing federal immigration officials into a workplace and bars employers from sharing their employees’ confidential information, such as social security numbers without a subpoena.

“Gov. Brown understands that in an environment of division and fear, California must continue to defend its workers, to guard its values, and to ensure that its laws protect all of our residents,” said Chiu, a son of immigrants.

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