California may prohibit local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration authorities, creating a border-to-border sanctuary in the nation’s largest state as legislative Democrats ramp up their efforts to battle President Donald Trump’s migration policies.
The legislation is scheduled for its first public hearing Tuesday as the Senate rushes to enact measures that Democratic lawmakers say would protect immigrants from the crackdown that the Republican president has promised.
While many of California’s largest cities — including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento — have so-called sanctuary policies that prohibit police from cooperating with immigration authorities, much of the state does not.
The Democratic legislation, written by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon of Los Angeles, comes up for debate less than a week after Trump signed an order threatening to withdraw some federal grants from jurisdictions that bar officials from communicating with federal authorities about someone’s immigration status.
The Senate Public Safety Committee considers SB54 Tuesday morning. The Judiciary Committee will also consider fast-tracked legislation that would spend state money, in an amount that has not been disclosed, to provide lawyers for people facing deportation.
Some Republicans have criticized the Democratic reaction to Trump’s policies, saying bombastic rhetoric and provocative legislation will inflame tensions with the president and harm California.
The debate over sanctuary cities reached a fevered pitch in 2015 after Kate Steinle, 32, was fatally shot in the back Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, who was in the country illegally after multiple deportations to his native Mexico. Lopez-Sanchez, who told police the gun fired by accident, had been released from a San Francisco jail despite a request from federal immigration authorities that he be held in custody for possible deportation. Trump often cited the Steinle case during the campaign.
Many other cities and counties in California also refuse to detain immigrants for deportation agents out of legal concerns after a federal court ruled that immigrants can’t be held in jail beyond their scheduled release dates. Since then, federal agents have been asking local law enforcement agencies to provide information about immigrants they’re seeking for deportation, if not hold them.