SACRAMENTO (CN) – California Gov. Jerry Brown announced support Monday for a bill that would limit, but not prohibit, cooperation between California law enforcement agencies and federal immigration officials.
Known as the “sanctuary state” bill, the proposal by state Senate Majority Leader Kevin De Leon was amended Monday to expand law enforcement’s ability to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests.
By opening up channels for law enforcement agencies to cooperate with ICE agents, De Leon, D-Los Angeles, was able to secure Brown’s support for Senate Bill 54.
“This bill protects public safety and people who come to California to work hard and make this state a better place,” Brown said in a statement.
De Leon introduced the bill in December before Donald Trump took office, calling SB 54 a “wall of justice” for California’s millions of undocumented immigrants. The initial version called for a complete freeze of communication between law enforcement agencies and ICE.
Law enforcement agencies and state Republicans opposed the measure. They sought a broader range of offenses that police could assist ICE with, and said the bill would obstruct the federal government from enforcing immigration law.
After weeks of negotiations between Brown, De Leon and law enforcement groups, Monday’s amendments were well-received by law enforcement advocates.
The California Police Chiefs Association switched its position to neutral and Assemblyman Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove, expressed support for the changes.
Cooper, a former Sacramento County sheriff’s officer, is a powerful pro-law enforcement voice in the Assembly.
“After several months of working with stakeholders, I am proud to announce that we have addressed several of my initial concerns and have amended SB 54 to ensure that we are only protecting California’s law-abiding immigrants,” Cooper said in a statement.
Under the amendments, local law enforcement agencies could hold people for ICE if they have been convicted of violent crimes or lesser felonies, including drunk driving and drug possession. The new version also allows ICE to interview people in jails and exempts the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation from the bill.
Pro-immigration groups said they will continue to support the measure, despite the last-minute changes.
“The California Values Act will lift the bar statewide to safeguard Californians’ due process rights, particularly in those jurisdictions that have proven to be active, even enthusiastic, participants in the Trump mass deportation agenda,” ACLU of California immigrants rights director Jennie Pasquarella said in a statement.
California Immigrant Policy Center executive director Cynthia Buiza said the bill “will prevent many abuses and will take us one step closer toward recognizing that law enforcement should treat all people fairly, no matter what they look like or where they were born.”
The state Senate approved the bill in April; it must clear the Assembly before Friday’s legislative deadline. De Leon has amended his bill seven times since January.