California moved one step closer to becoming a sanctuary state when the California Values Act, or SB 54, passed the state Senate floor April 3, with 27 votes in favor and 12 against.
If signed into law, the bill would prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies from using resources to “investigate, interrogate, detain, detect, or arrest persons for immigration enforcement purposes,” according to the bill text. The bill is now in the Assembly, where it is pending a hearing date in the Assembly Public Safety Committee. If approved, it will go to the Appropriations Committee and then the Assembly floor before it can be signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.
The bill was introduced by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León. According to a press release issued by de León, the bill acknowledges the contributions of California’s undocumented residents and supports them in the face of President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric.
During his senate floor remarks, de León explained that California is home to 3 million undocumented immigrants. According to de León, the one in 10 residents who are undocumented contribute more than $180 billion to California’s GDP and pay more than $3 billion in state and local taxes. De León said deporting these individuals would “devastate our economy.”
According to Sen. Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, who voted in favor of the bill, SB 54 doesn’t completely cut off cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. California will still comply with judicial warrants and provide information about violent felons. He said in an email that he believes undocumented students living under the constant threat of deportation are unlikely to report crimes, which makes California communities less safe.
“What this country needs is comprehensive immigration reform, not policies that stereotype undocumented immigrants,” Wieckowski said in his email.
But Sen. Patricia Bates, R-Laguna Niguel, said in an email that she believes the bill could threaten the community’s safety.
“SB 54 could lead to dangerous individuals falling through the cracks and being let out on the streets when they should have been deported instead,” Bates, who voted against the bill, said in an email.
Arturo Fernandez, an undocumented campus doctoral student in statistics, said in an email that he thinks the policy will have minimal effect on Berkeley but emphasized that it will allow undocumented communities in “callous” jurisdictions to “breathe easier.”
Fernandez said in his email that he thinks the bill text doesn’t include rehabilitation for undocumented individuals who have already interacted with the criminal justice system. He added, however, that he hopes the bill will act as a stepping stone for further action.
Cal Berkeley Democrats Vice President of Membership Caiden Nason said in email that the bill would alleviate pressure off of individual sanctuary cities. According to Nason, the bill would allow undocumented immigrants to move out of expensive cities, making it easier for them to live across California.
Hector Cardenas, lecturer at the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy, said in an email that the bill “pits” the state of California against the federal government. He said he thinks that although the fear of arrest and deportation in the undocumented community will reduce by the passage of the bill, there could be ramifications.
“It is sure to generate controversy whenever there are even isolated cases or serious crimes committed by undocumented immigrants,” Cardenas said in his email.