Bill SB 54 and What it Means for Immigrants

With the election and then subsequent inauguration of President Donald Trump, there has been considerable unease in the immigrant community. President Trump’s offensive remarks towards immigrants, combined with his anti-immigrant policy proposals, have led to calls for action from immigrant rights groups. In California, Senate Bill 54, which is currently working its way through the legislative process, is seen by many as a state-level check on President Trump’s power. Here, our experienced immigration attorney in Los Angeles discusses SB 54 and its implications for immigrants and their families.

SB 54 Bill: Explained

California Would Become a ‘Sanctuary State’

Unofficially, SB 54 is being referred to as California’s ‘sanctuary state’ law. Essentially, the bill would prohibit all state law enforcement agencies from using state resources (including their time) to assist federal immigration enforcement officials, except in a very narrow set of circumstances. Additionally, California state law enforcement officers would also be prohibited from inquiring about an individual’s immigration status.

Expands on Previous Legal Protections for Immigrants

In many ways, this bill expands on already existing state protections. Specifically, SB 54 would expand on the California Trust Act, which was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in 2013. The California Trust Act prevents state officials from holding immigrants for any longer than is necessary for all minor criminal charges. SB 54 would expand on these legal protections for immigrants. If the law is passed, California law enforcement officials would be banned from doing any of the following:

  • Collecting information on a person’s immigration status;
  • Responding to immigration-related requests made by federal agencies;
  • Arresting people for civil immigration offenses; and
  • Letting ICE officers interview someone who is in custody, for purposes of immigration enforcement.

Establishes ‘Safe Zones’ for Immigrants  

This bill would also set up certain ‘safe zones’ for immigrants. All public schools, public health centers and courthouses would become ‘safe zones’, free from immigration enforcement and deportation. Other government organizations, such as the California University system, would be encouraged, but not required, to adopt similar policies.

It is somewhat unclear as to what exactly the designation as a ‘safe zone’ would entail. Though, the bill instructs these public areas to create protocols that would limit immigration enforcement as much as possible under state and federal law.  

The Remaining Legislative Hurdles for the Bill

On March 30th, 2017, CNN reported that SB 54 passed in the California state senate by a vote of 27-12. The vote was split on party lines, with the Democrats in support, and the Republicans in opposition. Now, the vote will head to the California State Assembly, where the Democrats hold a very large majority. If the bill passes, its last stop will be Governor Jerry Brown’s desk, where his signature will make SB 54 official state law. At the moment, the bill looks likely to pass, though it is still far from guaranteed. Further, additional amendments could still be made. Our firm will keep a close watch on any new legal and legislative developments.

Do You Need Immigration Law Help?

Please reach out to the experienced immigration law team at the Goldstein Immigration Lawyers today. From our office in the heart of L.A., we proudly represent immigrants throughout Southern California, including in Glendale, Pasadena, Monterey Park and Inglewood.