California is now a ‘sanctuary state’

man in black and white suit speaking at a podium
California Governor Jerry Brown speaks at the 2016 Democratic National Convention on July 27, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pa. (Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times/TNS/MCT)

On Oct. 5 Gov. Jerry Brown approved Senate Bill 54 making the state of California a sanctuary state in response to the new federal immigration policies.

State of California’s SB No. 54 “prohibits state and local law enforcement agencies from using money or personnel to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect or arrest persons for immigration enforcement purposes.”

According to the bill, starting January of 2018, California law enforcement agencies cannot do the following: inquire about an individual’s immigration status, detain an individual on the basis of a hold request, provide certain personal information to ICE officers and many other provisions currently protecting immigration status ambiguity.

However, the bill does not allow this discretion to individuals who are convicted of one or more offenses from a list of 800 crimes outlined in 2013 state law.

As for public schools, public libraries and public health facilities it is stated in the bill that the Attorney General of California in cooperation with appropriate stakeholders will publish comprehensive model policies by Oct. 1, 2018. These policies will provide a set procedure to follow when dealing with ICE to ensure maximum discretion regarding immigration status.

This is not the first time state legislatures have challenged federal immigration policies.

The TRUST Act signed by Brown on 2013 prohibited law enforcement officers from detaining an individual for the purpose of federal immigration investigation after they become eligible for release from custody. The TRUST Act also limited state co operation with ICE regarding immigration enforcement.

SB 54 was approved on the day U.S. Citizenship and Immigrant Services stopped accepting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) request and renewals. DACA provided their recipient with a two year work permit and exempted them from removal proceedings. For the individuals who were unable to renew their permit, SB 54 now provides a refuge.

SB 54 has received much support from Californian public institution including CSUN. President Dianne Harrison released a statement reiterating CSUN’s commitment to “educating, supporting and protecting all students regardless of immigration status.”

Those who do not support the bill fear losing federal funding. City of Laguna Niguel in Orange County issued a draft letter in opposition to SB 54 claiming “Laguna Niguel stands to lose over $2,065,300 in Federal Community Development Block Grant and Highway Administration funding should SB 54 pass.”

It is stated in the Trump administration’s Immigration Principles & Policies Section 2, that “any state or local jurisdiction that fails to cooperate with any United States government entity regarding enforcement of federal immigration laws” will be blocked from “receiving grants and agreements administered or awarded by the Department of Justice and Homeland Security.”

According to recent data mentioned in the SB 54 “one in three Californians are foreign born and one in two children have at least one immigrant parents.”

The bill acknowledges the asset that immigration is to the state of California’s economy and culture. It’s attempting protect this asset.

Kevin Nieto Luescas, studying Pre Law at CSUN conveyed that “ It [SB 54] is like a big brother that has your back.”

California is the first state to claim itself as a “sanctuary state”. With the constant change in immigration policies being implemented by the Trump administration it may be only a matter of time before other states start passing their own bill to counter these federal regulations.