California Bill to Extend Protections for Immigrant Witnesses Heads to Gov. Jerry Brown

California law enforcement officers will be prohibited from detaining crime victims or witnesses on immigration violations under a state bill headed to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature.

The legislation, filed by Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), would keep officers from holding a crime victim or witness solely for an immigration violation unless they acquire a judicial warrant. It was approved by the state Assembly on Monday with a 64-15 vote.

Brown has until Oct. 15 to sign or veto the bill.

State law currently prevents officers from detaining witnesses to a hate crime on immigration violations or charges. It also prohibits officers from turning over or reporting hate crime witnesses to federal immigration authorities.

The legislation is one of several bills that Democratic lawmakers have filed this legislative session in an attempt to counter the effects of expanded immigration enforcement under the Trump administration. Fear of deportation keeps crime victims and witnesses from coming forward to authorities, the lawmakers say, making neighborhoods less safe.

“It is in the best interest of the state to establish firm connections with those in the community and to protect the public from crime and violence by encouraging all persons — victims, witnesses or anyone who provides evidence to assist in a criminal investigation — to cooperate with state and local law enforcement and not be penalized on account of their immigration status,” Jones-Sawyer said in a statement.

By Jazmine Ulloa for LOS ANGELES TIMES
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