California lawmakers approve 'sanctuary state' bill

Lawmakers have approved a bill that makes California a so-called "Sanctuary State".

On Friday, the State Assembly approved Senate Bill 54 by a vote of 49-to-25.  The amended version of the bill now heads to the Governor’s desk.  He has until October 15th to sign it.

California’s “Sanctuary State” bill limits the sharing of information between local police and federal immigration agents.  Under the bill, local and state officers cannot ask about a person’s immigration status or be deputized as immigration agents.  However, in a concession to Governor Brown, Democrats agreed the state prison system would be exempted from most of the requirements.

After the vote, Republicans voiced their opposition. "The only thing this bill provides a sanctuary for is dangerous criminals," said Assemblyman James Gallagher, a Republican from Nicolaus.  Republican Senator Jim Nielsen of Gerber said, “I think it's ironic to have the state of California or the agency heads of California, willfully advocating the violation of federal law."

The bill’s Democratic author, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon, said he wrote the legislation in response to President Trump’s promise to step up deportations of people in the country illegally.  "It sends a very clear message to the Trump administration that in California we value inclusivity, we value diversity," De Leon said.

Earlier Friday, a federal judge in Chicago ruled against the Trump administration and an order issued by Attorney General Jeff Sessions requiring so-called sanctuary cities to cooperate with immigration agents in order to get federal funding in the form of public safety grants.  The judge said Sessions had exceeded his authority and that his order would impose “irreparable harm” on cities if they didn’t cooperate.

That case was brought by Chicago but impacts jurisdictions nationwide including Santa Clara county and San Francisco which have also sued the White House.

"I think it just reinforces that we're following the law and that the president and the attorney general are trying to get counties across the country to violate the civil rights of the people who live in their communities," said Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera issued a statement saying, "We applaud the court's decision that the U.S. Attorney General lacks the authority to impose these new conditions on law enforcement grants. The Trump administration is playing politics with public safety."