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Governor Brown Makes California A Sanctuary State

Jason Hopkins

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'...people who come to California...'

California Gov. Jerry Brown announced Thursday his signature of a bill that makes the entire state a sanctuary for illegal immigrants.

The legislation Brown signed, referred to as the California Values Act, greatly restricts law enforcement’s ability to locate and detain suspects of illegal immigrants in numerous ways.

Police and sheriffs in the state will be barred from asking individuals about their immigration status. The new law also blocks local agencies from cooperating with detainer requests from federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

The restriction will undoubtedly deal a huge blow to ICE procedures in California. Around 65 percent of deportations around the country are a result of cooperation between local and state law enforcement and federal Customs and Border Protections and ICE officers.

The sanctuary law also requires health facilities, schools and court houses to develop their own procedures on restricting immigration enforcement that could possibly take place on their property.

Under the law, federal immigration officers will still be permitted to interview suspects in the custody of local California law enforcement, but they will not be permitted to maintain permanent office space in local jails or state prisons.


Liberal cities across the country have already begun to pass sanctuary measures for illegal immigrants, but the move by Brown makes California the first entire state to offer such protections to undocumented immigrants residing in the country. Around 35 cities in California are already embracing the “sanctuary” label.

The California state legislature, overwhelmingly controlled by Democratic lawmakers, passed the California Values Act in September. Brown had long been expected to sign the measure.

The bill that ultimately landed on Brown’s desk was a moderated version of what was first drawn up by its prime sponsor, state Senate President Kevin de Leon. As the legislation made its way through both chambers, it was vehemently protested by California Police Chiefs Association, Republican sheriffs and other law enforcement groups. It passed through the California state Senate by a party line vote.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has described the measure as “unconscionable.”

Brown and other supporters of the bill say the move to make California a sanctuary state is a rebuke to the Trump administration’s increased scrutiny of illegal immigration into the country and what they believe is racist rhetoric coming from the White House.

“This victory is the result of community organizing and directly impacted immigrants sharing their stories about being turned over to ICE at the hands of local law enforcement,” stated Angela Chan, the policy director of the Asian Law Caucus and an immigrants rights activist. “And we look forward to working to pass stronger protections for immigrants throughout California in the years to come.”

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has increased the number of illegal immigration arrests by 43 percent since Trump entered the White House, including 28,000 individuals who had not been charged of any crime other than an immigration infraction.

The Trump administration in the past has tried to withhold federal funds to cities that enacted sanctuary laws and a reaction from the president is certainly expected after Brown’s signature makes the entire state of California a safe haven for illegal immigrants. Federal officials will challenge the law in court.

Devin O’Malley, a Department of Justice spokesman, stated that “state lawmakers inexplicably voted today to return criminal aliens back onto our streets” just hours after the bill was sent to Brown’s desk for signature.

An estimated 2.3 million illegal immigrants live in the state.