California, long a national leader in pro-immigrant policymaking, is poised to once again provide a powerful example of how states can stand up for immigrants and protect public safety for all.
At a press conference yesterday, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck joined with former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and California State Senate Leader Kevin de León to demonstrate support for California’s Senate Bill 54 – legislation that would protect public safety for all by ensuring that local law enforcement do not become de facto immigration agents.
As we’ve seen throughout the country, public safety has been harmed, not helped, by the Trump Administration’s indiscriminate deportations. In Los Angeles and a growing number of jurisdictions, fears of deportation are making immigrants less likely to report crimes and serve as witnesses.
Below, we lift up an article from Los Angeles Times highlighting yesterday’s press conference and explaining the importance of SB 54 as vital pro-immigrant legislation that contrasts with the dangerous anti-immigrant policymaking coming out of Washington DC:
Police Chief Charlie Beck for the first time offered his full support for a bill that would prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies from carrying out immigration laws, calling it an important proposal that protects the trust between his department and the neighborhoods it polices.
‘This is not a soft-on-crime bill,’ Beck said Monday at a Los Angeles news conference, with former U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León. ‘This is not an anti-law enforcement bill. This is a bill that displays courage. The courage of Californians, the courage of Angelenos to understand that when we stand together we are much more effective than when we stand apart.’
The endorsement is a boon for De León (D-Los Angeles), who authored Senate Bill 54 and has grappled with opposition from law enforcement groups over claims that it could weaken their ability to detain dangerous or repeat criminals. It came as Holder unveiled a letter to U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions arguing that the legislation ‘is constitutional and not preempted by federal law.
…’California is doing the right thing,’ Holder said of moving the bill through the Legislature. ‘This is something that needs to be done nationwide.’
Senate Bill 54, the so-called sanctuary state bill, was sparked by the Trump administration’s broadened deportation orders. It would prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies, including school police and security, from using resources to investigate, detain, report or arrest people for immigration enforcement.
To address some concerns from police chiefs and sheriffs, De León amended the legislation to allow local and state officers to participate in task forces — and work alongside federal immigration officers — as long as their main purpose is not immigration enforcement. Other changes have loosened communication restrictions between local law enforcement agencies and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials concerning violent felons.
…On Monday, the police chief said he worked closely with De León’s office to ensure it addressed all law enforcement concerns, and that it struck a balance between public safety and preserving community trust. The legislation will allow officers to concentrate on violent criminals who are not in the country legally, he said, and if necessary, to use their illegal status to detain them.
He described the bill as a reflection of California’s values, his own and those of the Los Angeles Police Department, which he said had honored the ‘Special Order 40.’ The 1979 mandate prevents officers from approaching people solely to inquire about immigration status.
‘We depend on our communities, particularly the immigrant communities, not only to keep them safe but to keep all of you safe,’ Beck said. ‘Without that cooperation we all suffer.’