California Just Escalated Its Showdown With Trump Over Immigration

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California hasn’t been shy about its opposition to Donald Trump. In January, just days after Trump’s inauguration, Governor Jerry Brown proclaimed Trump’s presidency “a time which calls for courage and for perseverance” and promised Californians “both.”


Now, with Trump’s anti-immigrant policies wreaking havoc across the country, California’s Democratic-majority Senate has issued a collective rebuke to the White House, declaring California a “sanctuary state”for undocumented immigrants in defiance of federal policy.

In a party-line vote of 27–12 on Monday, senators approved SB54, the “California Values Act,” which bars local and municipal law enforcement agencies from cooperating with federal immigration authorities in certain cases.


The bill states, in part, that:

Immigrants are valuable and essential members of the California community. Almost one in three Californians is foreign born and one in two children in California has at least one immigrant parent.

A relationship of trust between California’s immigrant community and state and local agencies is central to the public safety of the people of California.

This trust is threatened when state and local agencies are entangled with federal immigration enforcement, with the result that immigrant community members fear approaching police when they are victims of, and witnesses to, crimes, seeking basic health services, or attending school, to the detriment of public safety and the well-being of all Californians.

Entangling state and local agencies with federal immigration enforcement programs diverts already limited resources and blurs the lines of accountability between local, state, and federal governments.

The bill goes on to call into question the constitutionality of some forms of immigration enforcement.

“Our communities will become more, not less, dangerous if local police are enlisted to enforce federal immigration laws,” Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, who authored the bill, said after the vote. He described the bill as a “rejection of President Trump’s false and cynical portrayal of undocumented immigrants as a lawless community.”


Still, not everyone is thrilled by the state Senate’s gesture of defiance—particularly given the administration’s recent saber-rattling toward sanctuary cities across the country.

The state is “kicking the president right in the groin,” one Republican lawmaker warned, before insisting that President Trump “will strike back.”


As the New York Times notes, the California State Sheriffs’ Association was also vociferously opposed to the bill, which went through several rounds of amendment-adding to appease conservative critics. Among the changes made to the bill before its final vote: Local police are allowed to notify federal authorities of impending release dates for violent offenders, and are allowed to participate in broader federal task forces, even if such projects contain immigration components.

The bill now heads to the California Assembly, where state Democrats also hold a solid majority. If approved and signed by Brown, it will reportedly go into effect on Jan 1.

Senior writer. When in doubt he'll have the soup.

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