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Calif. Senate Advances "Sanctuary State" And Other Bills Responding To Trump

Days after President Donald Trump signed an executive order to strip federal funding from sanctuary cities, the California Senate has advanced legislation that would extend those policies statewide.

The Senate measure would generally prevent local and state law enforcement from working with federal immigration agents, unless they have a warrant. Senate Democrats argued it would shield immigrants who commit minor infractions from punitive federal policies, while Republicans countered it would prevent deportation of serious criminals.

RELATED: California To Take Up Sanctuary City Legislation


Republican Senator Jeff Stone said the measure would enact “sanctuary city” policies across the state.

"I’m concerned not only about the safety of the residents of the State of California, I’m concerned about the promise of this president to take away significant federal funds," Stone said.

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, who wrote the "sanctuary state" legislation, is shown in this undated photo.
Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles
Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, who wrote the "sanctuary state" legislation, is shown in this undated photo.

Democratic Senate Leader Kevin de León argued it prevents local law enforcement from doing the job of federal immigration agencies, but does not impede those departments.

"When Homeland Security or the FBI want to engage and want someone, they usually have a list, and they produce a judicial warrant," said Kevin de León. "This measure doesn’t prohibit that."

That argument will likely be tested in court. It falls along similar lines as those in a lawsuit the City of San Francisco launched Tuesday against the President's executive order.


Capital Public Radio spoke with the former federal head of civil immigration litigation about potential effects of the president's order.

Law enforcement was divided on the Senate measure. Cory Salzillo of the California State Sheriffs Association says it would constrain sheriffs from giving even simple answers about whether someone is in custody.

"We have a need and a desire to work together with law enforcement from all levels of government to keep our communities safe," Salzillo said.

But John Lovell with the California College and University Police Chiefs Association says the law would encourage people without legal documentation and their families to report crimes.

"It’s just axiomatic that if you intertwine immigration enforcement with front line law enforcement, front line law enforcement will suffer," said Lovell.

RELATED: San Diego Professor Finds Sanctuary Counties Are Safer And Economically Stronger

The Senate Public Safety Committee approved the measure along party lines. It now moves to the Appropriations committee.

Another Senate committee voted Tuesday for a measure that would provide state-funded legal services to immigrants facing deportation.

The committee also approved legislation that would prevent California agencies from cooperating with the creation of religious lists.

Democrats introduced all three measures after the November election, as a response to campaign statements from President Trump.