California measure would create immigrant ‘safe zones’

California measure would create immigrant ‘safe zones’
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California state Senate President Kevin de León (D) has filed legislation to prevent state and local law enforcement agencies from working with federal immigration officials to deport undocumented immigrants.

De León’s legislation comes as Democrats across the country prepare plans to combat President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpAvenatti ‘still considering’ presidential run despite domestic violence arrest Mulvaney positioning himself to be Commerce Secretary: report Kasich: Wouldn’t want presidential run to ‘diminish my voice’ MORE’s agenda.

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The bill, dubbed the California Values Act, would prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies from enforcing immigration laws from being carried out in “safe zones” — public schools, hospitals and courthouses — in order to guarantee undocumented immigrants access to those services. 

The bill “will make it clear California public schools, hospitals, and courthouses will not be used by the Trump regime to deport our families, friends, neighbors, classmates and co-workers,” said Assemblyman Marc Levine (D), the bill’s chief sponsor in the lower chamber.

The measure does not prohibit law enforcement agencies from transferring violent offenders into federal custody to be deported. But it does prohibit those agencies from acting as federal immigration officers and cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in order to deport other undocumented immigrants.

“To the millions of undocumented residents pursuing and contributing to the California Dream, the state of California will be your wall of justice should the incoming administration adopt an inhumane and over-reaching mass-deportation policy,” de León said in a statement.

Cities and states led by Democrats are preparing a fierce defense of undocumented immigrants if the incoming Trump administration goes ahead with plans to deport those migrants. In recent weeks, mayors and police chiefs in cities like Boston, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco have made clear their agencies will not participate in rounding up immigrants.

Cities and states have no legal obligation to enforce federal immigration law, and local jurisdictions have for years avoided participating in immigration enforcement, both to maintain healthy relations with immigrant communities and to save money in tight police department budgets. 

Trump has promised to deport or jail up to 3 million undocumented immigrants who have criminal records, even those convicted of low-level offenses. 

“We have a lot of these people, probably 2 million, it could be even 3 million,” Trump said of undocumented immigrants with criminal records in an interview on CBS’s "60 Minutes," shortly after winning November’s presidential election. “We are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate. But we’re getting them out of our country; they’re here illegally.”

Trump has pledged to block federal funding from cities that give sanctuary to undocumented immigrants.

About one in five undocumented immigrants living in the United States live in California. An estimated 1 million, or about one in 11, live in the Los Angeles area alone.

De León, who is considering a run for governor in 2018, has promised to roll out a package of immigrant rights legislation. Other legislators in Sacramento have offered measures to provide legal aid to those facing deportation proceedings.