By this point, you may be familiar with the term “sanctuary city,” but California may take the concept even further by declaring the entire state an immigration sanctuary. In this post, we’ll examine what it means in terms of law enforcement and public safety if California declares itself a sanctuary state.
What is a Sanctuary City or State?
The term “sanctuary” in an immigration context means that unless an individual has committed one or more specific crimes, local law enforcement officers will not report him or her to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for deportation. For example, if an undocumented immigrant was arrested for a minor crime such as petty theft, local authorities would process them like they would if he or she were a U.S. resident and would not report their illegal status to ICE. Furthermore, supporters of sanctuary city policies cite that our society is safer when illegal immigrants feel secure enough to report crimes and serve as witnesses without fear of deportation.
Extending California’s Existing Sanctuary Laws
The bill currently making its rounds in California’s legislature is called SB 54 and would build upon the Trust Act passed in 2014 and the Truth Act passed in 2016. The Trust Act prevents local jails and prisons from keeping noncitizen inmates in jail longer than their sentences in order to give ICE enough time to come and meet them at their release and arrest them for their immigration status. The Truth Act requires that inmates receive consent forms explaining their rights before ICE agents talk to them while incarcerated.
What a Sanctuary State Would Look Like
SB 54’s main function would be to restrict the amount of personal information local law enforcement could submit to federal and ICE agents. It would not detract from the authority of ICE but would encourage local agencies to not voluntarily supply immigration status information unless specifically asked. ICE would still have access to fingerprint data from anyone booked into jail and could proceed as they wish. The current presidential administration threatens to suspend federal funding into our state if SB 54 passes.
Preparing for Changes
California is known to be a pioneer state in social issues and shows no signs of changing that position. As our state and the federal government continue to butt heads, it will be important to stay abreast of new legislation and know who to call should you find yourself in legal hot water. Contact the trusted legal team at Hales & Associates, a Professional Law Corporation at (951) 489-3320 for help in the areas of personal injury, sexual harassment, DUI, or misdemeanor.