On Thursday, the governor of California signed a “sanctuary state” bill that would place limits on how local law enforcement agencies can cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
The legislation was passed last by the Californian congress last month. Governor Jerry Brown played a pivotal role in negotiating the conditions underlying it.
Brown’s signing of the bill comes at a time of heightened tension between the state and the White House. President Donald Trump has been a frequent critic of some of California’s largest cities, which have adopted so-called ‘sanctuary city’ policies to protect undocumented immigrants from wanton deportation.
California Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon said at a public rally that his state is “building a wall” against the Trump administration and what he calls “a sickening rise in racism” nationwide.
The ‘sanctuary state’ bill – sponsored by de Leon and signed into law by Brown – prevents law enforcement officers from asking about a person’s immigration status during routine interactions. It also places limits on where, when, and how police can supply information or otherwise cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
Nevertheless, the law was significantly weakened during negotiations in the state senate – among the concessions California Democrats made is permitting law enforcement to work with the federal government in instances where an illegal immigrant is suspected of a crime.
“These are uncertain times for undocumented Californians and their families,” said Brown in a state Thursday, “and this bill strikes a balance that will protect public safety, while bringing a measure of comfort to those whose families are now living in fear every day.”
He added that the bill “does not prevent or prohibit Immigration and Customs Enforcement or the Department of Homeland Security from doing their own work in any way.”
Not surprisingly, the law’s enactment was met with harsh words from the White House.
A Justice Department spokesman called the bill an attempt “to codify a commitment to returning criminal aliens back onto the street,” while U.S. Attorney General called the law “unconscionable.”
Sessions has railed against sanctuary cities and other varieties of sanctuary-type legislation since the beginning of summer, when he publicly called out the mayors of Chicago and Philadelphia for purportedly bolstering crime rates by keeping undocumented aliens shielded from the federal government.
Politico notes that that the ‘sanctuary state’ legislation is the latest California law designed to protect undocumented immigrants. The state has also created programs to grant unauthorized aliens drivers licenses and financial aid for higher education.