Senate in California Backs Legislation to Block Deportation of Immigrants
The Senate in California approved legislation that could make California a sanctuary state for undocumented immigrants by shielding a number of them from being deported. The new legislation would prohibit law enforcement from handing illegal immigrants over for deportation except for the ones who have convictions for serious felonies.
The bill flew through the Senate chambers on Thursday and will head to the state Assembly where it should also be received warmly. The legislation was passed already on one occasion by the Assembly. Debate on the new legislation comes just a couple of weeks after the Supreme Court ruled on the Arizona immigration law and upheld on important part – requiring police to check the legal status of those they suspect are illegally in the country.
Critics of the measure in California call the bill a huge mistake and even dangerous. However, its proponents say law enforcement should not have to be entangled in enforcing immigration laws, which are the responsibility of federal law enforcement.
One supporter of the legislation said the state wants to position itself as the anti-Arizona. The proponents want the legislation to remedy the problems with the Secure Communities program initiated by the Obama administration that lets local jails perform immigration checks on all who are arrested.
That plan has led to thousands of deportations of illegal immigrants, many who do not have any criminal records and has been criticize fiercely by activists for civil rights. One activists said that under this program seven of every 10 people deported do not have criminal records.
That statistic was disputed by an immigration spokesperson who said the numbers are reversed. Close to 75% of those deported through the Secure Communities program have at least one criminal conviction.