In a strike at President Trump’s call for more deportations, California lawmakers passed landmark “sanctuary state” legislation earlier this month to shield thousands of immigrants who have entered the U.S. illegally.
Senate Bill 54, approved on the last day of the 2017 legislative session, would limit whom state and local law enforcement officers can hold and question on immigration violations. It’s now on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk and has set off a tense showdown between federal officials and state leaders over its potential effect on public safety.
Here’s what’s next if Brown signs it:
The law could land in court
The law would take effect in January, but Trump administration officials could challenge its provisions and even try to block it from being implemented.
U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions, who has called SB 54 “unconscionable,” is already locked in a legal battle with several cities, including San Francisco, over his move to withhold Justice Department grant funds to discourage “sanctuary city” policies. On the day California lawmakers voted to pass SB 54, a federal judge in Chicago largely blocked his measure.
State Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), who introduced the legislation, has said state leaders are prepared to defend it in court. Some legal experts say an effort to block California’s law would likely be unsuccessful, pointing to the 10th Amendment and previous rulings in which courts have found the federal government can't compel local authorities to enforce federal laws.
If it takes effect there would be new limits on law enforcement
Dubbed the “California Values Act,” Senate Bill 54 would establish clear divisions between law enforcement and federal immigration authorities in an attempt to ensure local officers do not become part of deportation efforts under the Trump administration.
The law would largely prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies, including school and security officers, from using money or staff to investigate, question, hold or arrest people for immigration violations.
For many officers across the state, the expanded restrictions wouldn’t change much. Some police and sheriff agencies have already developed similar boundaries against working with immigration agents through their own policies or under local “sanctuary city” rules that limit collaboration between local agencies and federal immigration authorities. For other officers, the legislation would set new guidelines.