A proposed bill that Governor Jerry Brown is expected to sign would make California a “sanctuary state.” After debating some of law’s initial provisions, which was requested by Gov. Brown to appease the state’s police unions, lawmakers agreed to adopt amendments on Monday. Yet even with the tweaks, Senate Bill 54 remains a potent attempt to fight President Trump’s crusade against immigrants.
The original version of SB 54 prohibited police officers from asking people about their immigration status and that provision was left untouched during deliberations, a major victory for immigration activists. Gov. Brown and Senate Leader Kevin de León’s agreement retains the brunt of SB 54's protections as well. Under the new law, police officers would be barred from participating in border patrol activities, arresting people sought for civil immigration warrants, and acting as deputized immigration agents.
There were some concessions, however. In keeping with current state laws, officers can still participate in federal task forces as long as they are unrelated to immigration and they can still notify immigration agents if an arrestee, or current inmate, committed a serious crime. The Mercury News detailed more of the modified bill’s stipulations:
The latest version of Senate Bill 54 would allow federal immigration officers to interview people in custody — though they can no longer have permanent office space in jails, according to information provided by Senate Leader Kevin de León’s office, who wrote the bill. The changes also would exclude state prisons from many of the requirements and would expand the list of crimes that would be exempted from some of the bill’s key provisions, amendments sought by some law enforcement groups as well as Brown.
Additional amendments to SB 54 would lift the state’s ban on sharing its criminal database with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and also gives agents access to interview inmates in jail, per The Sacramento Bee. Despite these changes, de León said in a statement that SB 54 “continues to provide landmark protections for our undocumented community.”
Gov. Brown, who expressed doubts about signing SB 54 before it was modified, indicated that he would approve the law. “This bill protects public safety and people who come to California to work hard and make this state a better place,” Brown said in a statement. Lawmakers are expected to cast a final vote on the bill by Friday.