After heated debate, the California Senate passed a so-called “sanctuary state” bill on Monday. While many Republicans argued that the bill would lead to dangerous criminals being let loose on the streets — warning that the measure would draw the ire of President Donald Trump — Democrats said that California had to take a stand in defense of “hardworking” immigrants that have become part of the country’s cultural and economic backbones.
The bill, formally known as Senate Bill 54, would prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies from using resources to investigate, detain, report or arrest persons for the purposes of immigration enforcement.
The Senate voted 27 to 12 along party lines to pass the measure, which will next be considered by the state Assembly before possibly going to the governor’s desk. California “cannot be intimidated” by threats from Trump to deny sanctuary jurisdictions of federal funds, said state Sen. Kevin de León, the bill’s author. “This is about making our communities safer, not less safe … We don’t grovel and put our hand out so we can get a little money and buy a police car,” he said. “Our role and responsibility is to protect all individuals.”
In an interview for a previous story, León told TIME that the bill will help ensure that all the state’s residents report violent crimes and feel safe enough to interact with government systems such as schools, hospitals and courts. Aggressive immigration enforcement policies have a “chilling effect,” he said.
“We don’t have to collaborate and use our local tax dollars to enforce federal immigration laws,” he said in that interview. “If they want to go after the bad guys, the violent felons and drug dealers, we are more than happy to continue to work with them. But if they want to split families up and deport the nanny, that’s not what America’s about and that’s not what California is about.”
Republicans argued on Monday that immigration policy is the domain of the federal government and the bill amounts to the state overstepping its bounds, saying that the measure would also make California a “magnet” for those who commit crimes.
Promising to deport undocumented immigrants was one of Trump’s key campaign promises. Since taking office, Trump has issued orders directing that immigration laws be enforced more aggressively and expanding the definition of “criminal aliens” who are targeted for deportation. Before taking office, Trump vowed to create a “deportation force” to carry out such work.
“You’ll be kicking the president right in the groin,” Republican state…