The state of California recently passed a measure called the California Values Act, also known as the Sanctuary State law,” which will have major effects on immigration in the State of California. The following article covers the recently signed legislation including what the law does and how it will impact immigration.
What is the California Values Act?
The California Values Act is designed to protect undocumented immigrants living in California from being suddenly detained and pulled from their families. While many people are calling this a “Sanctuary State law,” officials in California are trying to avoid that title as it has many negative political connotations.
The law blocks the power of federal immigration authorities to have undocumented immigrants detained beyond their legally allowed amount of time, and it also prevents federal authorities from being allowed to get state or local police departments to enforce immigration policies on behalf of the federal government. The law also puts a stop to allowing California detention facilities from being able to take on any more contracts with federal agencies to detain undocumented immigrants.
California Stands Tall Against Trump
Throughout his presidential campaign in 2016, Trump insisted that he would deport all undocumented immigrants out of the United States. When he took power in January 2017, stories of undocumented immigrants being pulled out of their jobs, their homes, American courts, and even schools started to surface. California governor Jerry Brown promised to oppose President Trump’s activities as much as he could, and the result is the California Values Act.
Concessions Were Made
The original bill that was to be signed into law received poor grades from California law enforcement officials because it limited how much information state and local police could exchange with federal immigration authorities. In last-minute negotiations between Governor Brown and California Senate President pro tem Kevin de Leon (the bill’s creator), the provisions that restricted communication between state, local, and federal authorities were removed.
List of Offenses
One of the biggest areas of contention among the groups fighting for and against the bill was a provision called the “List of Offenses.” This is a list of felony and misdemeanor offenses (primarily felonies) that is used to determine when the exchange of information between state, local, and federal authorities would take place. Immigration rights groups said that the list that originally existed was too broad and tended to include offenses that were not necessarily harmful to the public. Opponents of the sanctuary law stood behind the list of offenses as necessary and comprehensive.
When the smoke cleared after Governor Brown signed the bill, the “List of Offense” was not changed at all. For all of the good that immigration rights groups say that the California Values Act does in general, the groups insist that the offenses listed in the new law are going to still send non-dangerous criminals into the hands of federal immigration officials.
Almost from the moment Donald Trump became president of the United States, the state of California has indicated that it will not abide by the new president’s rules. When federal immigration officials started pulling documents with limited criminal records out of classrooms and courthouses at random, California responded by giving its immigrants sanctuary.
The California Values Act has large groups of supporters and detractors, but it also has the unwavering faith of California Governor Jerry Brown. The White House has threatened to challenge the law in court, but the federal government has a poor track record of defeating state laws in court. For now, the 2.3 million undocumented immigrants in California can sleep a little easier knowing that the long arm of federal immigration authorities now has another obstacle in its way.
Brian Mittman is a managing partner at Markhoff & Mittman, P.C. He is experienced in workers comp, social security and personal injury law. Visit TheDisabilityGuys.com to learn more.