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What are California's new pro-immigrant bills meant to do? Part 2

In our last post, we discussed the three pro-immigrant bills that were recently passed by the California Senate. This week, we'll get into more detail about SB 54, the so-called "sanctuary bill."

The passage of SB 54 stands as "a rejection of President Trump's false and cynical portrayal of undocumented residents as a lawless community," according to Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, who authored the bill. What are the basic points?

SB 54 isn't a new idea

The sanctuary bill merely adds to the protections of the California Trust Act, in effect since 2013. The CTA prohibits law enforcement agencies from keeping immigrants who are accused of minor crimes in jail longer than necessary to process them for those crimes. In other words, law enforcement can't hold people longer so that ICE can show up and take them into federal custody.

What SB 54 would add onto that protection is a stronger prohibition. Under the new law, more would be required for immigration authorities than to show up within the ordinary processing time for an immigrant's alleged offense. In the future, California's state and local law enforcement agencies would be forbidden from complying with USCIS "hold requests" and also barred from using any state or local facilities, equipment, personnel, property or funds on federal immigration enforcement. State and local officers could still participate in federal task forces.

Immigrants would be safe from immigration agencies in certain places

Public schools and libraries, healthcare facilities run by the state or municipalities, and courthouses would be enforcement-free zones. This is in part a response to concerns about USCIS and ICE agents lurking around courthouses hoping to catch unauthorized immigrants to detain.

California's government-run organizations, legal and social services, healthcare facilities, and educational facilities including the University of California should not be places where immigration crackdowns occur. These would all be urged to adopt "safe zone" policies the same as or substantially similar to that in SB 54.

SB 54 would not make all of California a safe zone for immigrants no matter what

The idea is to provide reasonable protections in a tough situation, when California has serious concerns about the legality and constitutionality of certain federal immigration actions. The law is not intended to shield every immigrant from prosecution or removal.

So, California law enforcement and corrections officials will still notify federal immigration authorities when immigrants with violent or serious convictions get released from state prisons. The federal government rightly prioritizes these immigrants for removal and California doesn't intend to hinder that.

Do you think SB 54 does enough to address the concerns of those who would like to see stricter immigration enforcement? Do you think it should pass?

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