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People Power Propels Historic Bill Forward
Yesterday, California’s State Senate passed the California Values Act, a landmark bill that ensures state and local law enforcement do not arrest and detain individuals solely on their immigration status. As the Trump Administration ramps up the federal government’s deportation machinery and attempts to bully communities to turn their police into de facto federal immigration agents, California has decided to ramp up smart policies that make communities safer by ensuring that immigrants can report crimes and serve as witnesses without fear of being turned over to the feds.
As Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon stated:
[the legislation is an] acknowledgement of the cultural and economic contributions made to our great state by immigrants and is a rejection of President Trump’s false and cynical portrayal of undocumented residents as a lawless community. Undocumented residents commit crimes and are incarcerated at a lower rate than native-born residents. Counties with sanctuary policies are safer and economically better off than comparable non-sanctuary counties. Our communities will become more – not less – dangerous if local police are enlisted to enforce immigration laws.
Our precious local law enforcement resources will be squandered if police are pulled from their duties to arrest otherwise law-abiding maids, busboys, labors, mothers and fathers. Trust will be lost. Crimes will go unreported for fear of deportation. Criminals will remain free to victimize others … Californians will not squander their precious public safety dollars to separate mothers from their children, to detain DREAMERS, or to deport honest, hardworking people who are so critical to our economy.
The Trump Administration’s zeal for mass deportation is having a real effect on public safety for all, as fears rippling through immigrant communities are having a chilling effect on the willingness to report crimes or serve as witnesses. For example, in Los Angeles, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck reported that his department had seen a dramatic drop-off in reports of domestic violence and sexual abuse due to the fears of the immigrant community. And in Denver, city attorney Kristin Bronson reported that she had to drop multiple domestic violence cases due to undocumented women refusing to serve as witnesses due to fears over immigration enforcement. Despite the Trump Administration’s rhetorical emphasis on “bad hombres,” the unshackled ICE and CBP are targeting whomever they please and however they please.
The California bill would strike a blow against mass deportation and enhance public safety for all. As State Senator Scott Wiener said, “Overwhelmingly this bill is about people who are just trying to live their lives. People who are living in fear right now.”
Of course, this historic legislation would not be before legislators if not for the tireless efforts of immigrants and their allies from throughout California. Among the hundreds of organizations that are driving the campaign are colleagues such as Asian Law Caucus, Asian American Justice Center, NDLON. California Immigrant Policy Center, PICO, SEIU and the ACLU. We salute them, their members and their allies for standing up for safety, standing up to Trump and standing strong for immigrants.
We look forward to the state assembly taking up the bill and moving it to the desk of Governor Jerry Brown. And we take heart that the bill’s passage will not only protect millions of immigrants who contribute mightily to the state and the country, but will deliver an inspiring message to the nation that California is going to treat immigrants as valued members of its communities.