California should probably start preparing for a major legal battle with the federal government – Jeff Sessions has started issuing threats ahead of California’s soon-to-be newest law.
Democrats in the state legislature and Democratic Governor Jerry Brown have come to an agreement regarding key points of contention in California’s “sanctuary state” bill, bringing the proposed law one step closer to reality. If Governor Brown signs the bill, and there’s no reason to think he won’t, California will become the first sanctuary state.
Until now, Governor Brown was the key obstacle to getting the bill passed into law. It easily made it through the state’s Senate and was expected to do the same in the state’s House of Representaties. According to The Sacramento Bee, it wasn’t until a Meet The Press interview last month that any opposition was found at all — in the form of Governor Brown requesting changes to the bill before agreeing to sign. That led to “intense negotiations” between Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León and Governor Brown, giving us the current iteration of the bill:
‘Despite the changes, de León and pro-immigrant groups stood by the measure Monday. De León, D-Los Angeles, said the bill continues to provide “landmark protections for our undocumented community.”
“SB 54 will ensure that state and local police are not diverted from protecting our communities in order to enforce federal immigration laws,” de León said in a statement.’
There may be some merit to that argument. Data shows that over-enforcement of federal immigration laws by local authorities can lead to a decline in investigations of other crimes, including violent crimes like robbery and murder. Despite fear-mongering by politicians, immigrants are not particularly likely to commit crimes. They’re actually less likely, statistically, to commit crime than native-born Americans.
“Sanctuary” laws are designed to create a wall between local and federal law enforcement when it comes to enforcing immigration laws. California claims it has the right to do so statewide based on the 10th amendment, which states “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
The version of the bill likely to hit Governor Brown’s desk this week will allow law enforcement to report undocumented immigrants who have been convicted of serious crimes to be reported to national authorities, as well as allowing immigration agents access to local law enforcement databases. However, police will not be allowed to ask about immigration status, and will not be allowed to act in other capacities as an immigration agent. The State Department of Corrections will be exempted from many of the rules affecting local law enforcement. While cities have individually taken similar steps before, this will be the first such law that covers an entire state.
Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions has vowed to pull as much funding as possible from any state that refuses to cooperate with federal immigration laws, and has already blocked millions in funding from various sanctuary cities in the state. California, as one of the largest economies in the world, and as a state that pays more in taxes than it receives from the federal government, is safer than many people would assume from such threats.