LOS ANGELES (Dec. 8, 2016) — Community and civil rights groups across the state are hailing the introduction Thursday of the California Values Act, SB 54 by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De León.
In a direct challenge to Donald Trump’s threats to deport millions of people, the bill will make sure that California does not use any state or local resources to fuel mass deportations or discrimination.
Specifically, the CA Values Act will keep California law enforcement out of painful deportations which separate families and communities, damage public safety, and undercut due process. The bill would ensure that public officials such as police, sheriffs, and school security officers are not involved in reporting, arresting, detaining, or turning community members over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for deportation. SB 54 would also keep schools, hospitals, and courts safe and accessible, with each developing a clear policy to limit deportation activities on their premises to the fullest extent possible.
Another key provision in the CA Values Act would guarantee that California plays no part in creating any kind of national registry to profile Muslim Americans or other groups at risk of discrimination, barring state and local officials from providing information on religion, national origin, or other protected characteristics. The bill would also bolster confidentiality practices at state agencies so immigrants can continue to successfully participate in California’s public life
Andrew Medina, policy manager of Advancing Justice – California, lauded the introduction of the bill.
“With the introduction of the SB 54 (De Leon) the California Values Act and the groundwork laid by many years of statewide organizing by immigrant communities and immigrant rights organizations, our state is poised to lead the country in fighting back against inhumane immigration enforcement policies,” Medina said.
Angela Chan, policy director of Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, said Trump’s threat to deport 3 million people is a witch hunt targeting some of the most vulnerable Californians.
“In these difficult moments, we must depend on our deepest values of community, equality, and family unity,” Chan said.
Anthony Ng, policy advocate for Advancing Justice – Los Angeles, said that for the sake of the safety and civil liberties and all people, local and state governments cannot be allowed to be tangled with the dirty business of deportations.
“California must chart a different course – one that recognizes and upholds our common humanity and deepest values,” Ng said. “Thus, we urge passage of the CA Values Act.”
The federal government’s attempts to turn local law enforcement into deportation agents have long met resistance in California, with years of community organizing and advocacy leading to the successful passage of the TRUST Act in 2013 and the TRUTH Act just this year. The TRUTH Act, which goes into effect on January 1, 2017, will limit abusive interrogations by ICE agents in local jails.
The TRUST Act, effective in 2014, limited cruel and costly ICE “hold” requests to detain immigrants for extra time in local jails for deportation purposes. A series of federal court rulings later found such holds to be unconstitutional, largely ending the unjust practice in California.
ICE’s deportation practices continue to violate principles of due process and probable cause, with immigrants languishing in detention for long periods without even seeing a judge. Thus, the CA Values Act requires that even if no state or local resources are implicated, no one will be transferred to ICE without a warrant signed by a judge – an additional safeguard against mistakes and abuses.
The campaign for the CA Values Act is anchored in the experiences and leadership of immigrant community members themselves. Community groups urge the public to recognize the humanity of people who have had arrests or convictions and to think critically about attempts by anti-immigrant forces to demonize immigrants.
Cases like that of Jose Alvarez of Long Beach, who served his time decades ago for a drug felony but was recently torn from his six U.S. citizen children (one of whom is a veteran), and Los Angeles grandmother Xochitl Hernandez, facing deportation due to false accusations of gang association, illustrate the human cost of criminalization.