With the stroke of Governor Jerry Brown’s pen California continued its defiance of President Donald Trump’s policies and declared itself a sanctuary state when Brown signed Senate Bill 54 today.
Brown had until October 15 to sign the “Sanctuary State” bill that would limit state law enforcement agencies from working with federal agencies to identify and deport undocumented residents of California and he did so early Thursday morning. In a brief statement, Brown said the bill would provide protections and stabilize the communities where these estimated 2 million immigrants live.
"This action protects public safety and ensures hard-working people who contribute to our state are respected," Brown said in a statement.
Brown’s signing of the bill comes on the deadline for Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) beneficiaries to renew their status with state and local officials.
Last month the Long Beach City Council voted to have the city attorney’s office draft a resolution that reaffirms its support of Senate Bill 54 and also instructed the city manager’s office to work with community and immigrant rights groups to expand on the protections provided under the bill. The council’s resolution was contingent on Brown’s signing of the bill as it did not provide language in its item for what would happen if the governor vetoed the law.
The president has yet to react to Brown’s signing of the Sanctuary State bill but in the past has threatened to defund cities that defied his immigration directives. In an afternoon press conference, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said that the president was expected to lay out his “responsible immigration” plan over the next week and is trying to find the best way forward.
“I hope California will push back on this irresponsible decision going forward,” Sanders said.
In his letter to the legislature stating his reasons for signing the bill, Brown noted that while the law will prohibit immigration screenings during routine police contacts, federal detention requests of undocumented persons in custody as well as the use of local officers for the purpose of serving as immigration agents, it does not stop federal agencies like ICE (Immigration Control and Enforcement) from using their own resources to carry out their objectives inside the state of California.
It also does not prohibit sheriff’s departments from granting access to federal agents to enter California jails or the cooperation of law enforcement agencies in helping to carry out deportation proceedings for those undocumented residents in custody for serious offenses.
“These are uncertain times for undocumented Californians and their families, and this bill strikes a balance that will protect public safety, while bringing a measure of comfort to those families who are now living in fear everyday,” Brown concluded in his letter.