California is Now a Sanctuary State for Immigrants.
“We are not living in a hypothetical fear.”
“That fear is a reality."
~ Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens).
California "Sanctuary" State for Illegal Immigrants
California lawmakers voted to make this great state a "sanctuary" for immigrants in the country illegally. The bill restricts when local law enforcement can help federal agents enforce immigration laws. NPR reports that California is pushing back against immigration hardliners in Washington, D.C.
At the heart of a democratic legislative move was an attempt to protect the more than 2.3 million people living in the state illegally. Other legislative proposals and budget deals have expanded workplace protections against I.C.E. raids and increased legal defense services for immigrants facing deportation, according to the LA Times.
Los Angeles Position
In Los Angeles, L.A.P.D. Chief Beck voiced his support, while L.A. County Sheriff McDonnell voiced his opposition. This is likely explained by the fact that the state police do not want to be charged with the enforcement of federal laws, whereas the sheriffs are the ones that actually need to take custody of the individuals.
Bad News LA County Jail: ICE Stays
Unfortunately, last minute amendments to the bill would allow federal immigration authorities to keep working with state corrections officials and to continue entering county jails to question immigrants. The legislation would also permit police and sheriffs to share information and transfer people to immigration authorities if they have been convicted of one or more crimes from a list of 800 outlined in a previous law, the California Trust Act.
Future Protection for People Held on Immigration Violations
However, under the additions to the bill, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation would have to develop new standards to protect people held on immigration violations, and to allow immigrant inmates to receive credits toward their sentences serviced if they undergo rehabilitation and educational programs while incarcerated.
~Patrick Santos is an attorney in North Hollywood. He practices criminal defense, civil litigation, and criminal & civil appeals. No immigration law.