Calif. considers becoming sanctuary state


California state legislators on Tuesday advanced a bill that would make the entire state a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants, in defiance of President Trump’s stated plans to deport millions of people.

The Senate Public Safety Committee approved the California Values Act on a party-line vote Tuesday morning. The measure now moves to the floor of the state Senate, where Democrats control a super majority.

The committee heard testimony on the bill offered by Senate President Kevin de León (D) that would prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies from spending money to enforce federal immigration laws. The measure would also ban immigration enforcement in state schools, health facilities and courthouses.

“We will not stand by and let the federal government use our state and local agencies to separate mothers from their children,” de León said in December, when he introduced what he calls the California Values Act.

{mosads}The fight over sanctuary status could put billions of dollars in federal funding for California programs at risk. Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order pledging to withhold federal money from cities and states that do not comply with federal immigration laws. The order requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to designate so-called “sanctuary jurisdictions” that refuse to share immigration status information with federal officials.

Some legal scholars question whether the executive order is constitutional, based on the 10th Amendment and previous court precedents. If Trump’s Homeland Security department goes ahead with plans to block federal funding, lawsuits are almost certain.

The man who would file suit on California’s behalf is Xavier Becerra, the state’s new attorney general, chosen by Gov. Jerry Brown (D) in part to challenge the Trump administration. Becerra, a son of immigrants himself, joined 15 other Democratic attorneys general this week in opposing Trump’s executive order temporarily blocking all refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority nations.

De León’s measure is just one in a series of bills the Democratic-controlled legislature will consider this year that deal with the state’s handling of federal immigration laws. Two other measures would provide legal counsel to undocumented immigrants.

Just days after Trump’s election, California Democrats began establishing themselves as a bulwark against his pledge to deport some undocumented immigrants. About one in 10 people in California’s workforce does not have legal documents, de León’s office estimated.

“In California, immigrants are an integral part of who we are and what we’ve become. They have helped create the wealth and dynamism of this state from the very beginning,” Gov. Jerry Brown (D) told legislators during his State of the State address last week.

“We will defend everybody — every man, woman and child — who has come here for a better life and has contributed to the well-being of our state.”

This story was updated at 3:47 p.m.

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