In what seems to be a direct response to President Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigrants and the uncertainty of the DACA program, California has introduced legislation to officially become a Sanctuary State. The move has angered many who are working for real immigration reform and those who take a firmer view on Law and Order.
Senate Bill 54 was introduced just before President Trump’s inauguration and was approved Saturday with a 27-11 vote along party lines. It is called the California Values Act and will “prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies, including school police and security departments, from using money or personnel to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect, or arrest persons for immigration enforcement purposes.”
While on the surface, it appears to be in place to protect regular illegal immigrants, in reality it goes a lot further. The law will protect those convicted of serious crimes, too. There are, however, exemptions.
California is home to an estimated 2.3 million illegal immigrants (some sources claim closer to 5 million), and this bill is designed to offer them more protection. Democratic Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula said “This bill here today helps some of us to believe that California is a safe place for immigrants; that we are a Golden State.”
Democrats have a supermajority in California, and as such can pass most any legislation without having to concede much. Opponents of the Sanctuary State bill suggest that it is shutting the state off from the rest of the country.
“A lot of people talk about building a wall. This bill builds a wall between the federal government and our local partners and makes our communities less safe,” said Republican assemblyman James Gallagher.
Many are questioning who was consulted on the formulation of the Sanctuary State bill. The California Sheriff’s Association remains opposed to the bill without further amendments. In a statement, they said:
“Our overarching concern remains that limiting local law enforcement’s ability to communicate and cooperate with federal law enforcement officers endangers public safety,” and that the bill “goes too far in cutting off communication with the Federal government.”
What has citizens concerned is that the overloaded legal system in California is happy to accept plea bargains for lesser charges. This means that illegal immigrants can continue to commit crimes (all misdemeanors and a range of felonies) without ever having a chance of deportation; leaving gang members and recidivist criminals to return to the communities. Critics say that while the laws protect the 2.3 million illegal immigrants, it is actually endangers to the legal population.
Mark is a political writer and journalist who has worked on campaigns for Brexit.