In California, ‘Sanctuary State’ and Other Immigration Bills Face Surprising Opposition

SACRAMENTO — Soon after President Donald Trump’s election, California lawmakers began rolling out legislation to fight the president’s promised crackdown on illegal immigration. They released bills to blacklist companies involved in Trump’s proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall project, protect undocumented children in schools, and bar the use of local and state police resources for federal immigration enforcement.

But after a rapid-fire start, the Legislature’s Trump resistance has slowed to a plodding pace. Both border-wall bills died — the “Resist the Wall Act” never had a committee hearing — and with just four weeks left in the Legislative session, much of the immigration-related legislation is still pending. That includes the highly publicized Senate Bill 54 — better known as the “sanctuary state” bill — which a powerful law enforcement group is fighting hard.

The California State Sheriffs’ Association is pressing lawmakers to defeat the bill by Senate Leader Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, while urging Gov. Jerry Brown not to sign it if it passes in its current form, the group’s leaders told reporters Tuesday.

“This is not a fait accompli,” said Bill Brown, Santa Barbara County Sheriff and president of the state association, during the teleconference. “There are many members of the Assembly who are not comfortable with this legislation.” The bill has already passed the Senate.

As the fate of immigration legislation comes down to the wire — and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions ramps up pressure on so-called “sanctuary” jurisdictions, such as San Jose and Oakland, to cooperate with federal immigration agents — immigration advocates are watching closely, hoping that the proposals introduced with fanfare months ago become law. Those on both sides of the “sanctuary state” debate have been trying to read the tea leaves ever since Brown, who rarely discusses pending legislation, told Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press” over the weekend that he wanted changes made to SB 54, alluding to public safety concerns.

By Katy Murphy for THE MERCURY NEWS
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