CA State Sen. Nancy Skinner emphasizes legislative action in wake of possible ICE sweeps

Nancy Skinner's Office/Courtesy

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California State Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, emphasized SB 54 and AB 450 in a press release Thursday in the wake of growing threats of raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, in the Bay Area.

SB 54 prohibits state and local police from aiding ICE in “operations against suspected undocumented immigrants,” unless such individuals have committed certain serious crimes.

AB 450 prohibits employers from sharing employee information without a subpoena. The bill also denies ICE workplace access in the absence of a judicial warrant.

“They have been very clear — both ICE and Homeland Security — that California is in the crosshairs, but how much increased enforcement — and where — has been a question for all of us,” Skinner said.

The chance of ICE raids occuring is “very likely,” Skinner said. She cited acting ICE director Thomas Homan, who told Fox News in early January that California should “hold on tight.” Skinner added that U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-California, said she has received information about a planned sweep.

Councilmember Kate Harrison also acknowledged the possibility of ICE raids in the Bay Area, specifically in workplaces, in an email to District 4. Harrison reminded community members of Berkeley’s Sanctuary City Task Force, which is formulating a “response plan.” Harrison also attached links to the English and Spanish versions of the city’s “Know Your Rights” guide.

Harrison advised business owners to contact the Alameda County Immigration Legal and Education Partnership, or ACILEP, hotline if they suspect ICE is in the area. ACILEP will verify ICE’s presence and dispatch an attorney and “legal observer” to aid and protect employees, according to the email.

Harrison declined to comment on the matter.

According to campus law professor Leti Volpp, although California is a “sanctuary state,” SB 54 cannot prohibit ICE from conducting raids. Volpp added that AB 450, however, could stall the process of workplace raids by requiring subpoenas and warrants.

“What SB 54 does is reduce what the Trump administration refers to as ‘force multipliers,’ meaning the deployment of state and local law enforcement as ICE agents,” Volpp said in an email.

Skinner said that in the event that an employer violates AB 450 by aiding ICE without obtaining a warrant or subpoena, they may face a fine up to $10,000. This penalty will be reinforced by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office, according to Skinner.

SB 54 applies not only to local law enforcement, but also to local government agencies and public schools, Skinner said. The purpose of the bill, according to Skinner, is to ensure public safety and prevent California from aiding federal agencies.

“Iʼm confident that at least in our area in the East Bay that we are pretty united … in being clear that we do not welcome this aggressive action against our immigrant residents and hardworking families,” Skinner said.

Francesca Munsayac is the lead race and diversity reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @fcfm_dc.