California’s Senate passed a bill late Monday that would make the state a “sanctuary state,” under which local and state law enforcement agencies would be prohibited from using their resources to help federal immigration officials.

The legislation, Senate Bill 54, passed despite last week’s announcement by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions that sanctuary jurisdictions risk losing federal money. During the Senate debate, the bill’s author said he wasn’t deterred by Sessions’ remarks.

“We’re the great state of California. We don’t grovel and put our hand out so we can get a little budget money, so we can buy a police car,” said Kevin de León, a Democrat. “That’s not who we are as a great state. Our role and responsibility is to protect all individuals and make sure our communities are safer.”

But critics like Republican Sen. John Moorlach said California can’t afford to anger the federal government.

“California has a very precarious budget,” he said. “It has major unfunded liabilities. It has major retiree medical expenses. It has severe infrastructure concerns. We just don’t need to jeopardize a funding source from the federal government.”

The bill, which now heads to the Assembly for approval, has been amended to allow for some communication between state and local law enforcement agencies and federal immigration authorities. But law enforcement groups say it’s still too restrictive.

An additional amendment would allow people who have previously been deported for violent felonies to be turned over to immigration officials. But Republican Sen. Pat Bates said that amendment doesn’t go far enough.

“I remain concerned about the criminals charged with crimes such as stalking, human trafficking, felony child abuse, domestic violence, Bates said. “And I can’t believe any of us really want to allow these individuals to remain in our communities and stay in our country after committing such heinous crimes.”

But de León countered that his bill would make the state safer.

“Undocumented residents commit crimes and are incarcerated at a lower rate than native-born residents,” he said. “Counties with sanctuary policies are safer and economically better off than comparable non-sanctuary counties.”

The bill now moves to the Assembly. Gov. Jerry Brown has not publicly said whether he’ll sign the legislation should it reach his desk.

Several other states have recently taken steps similar to de Leon’s bill, with the governors of Oregon and Washington recently signing executive orders declaring their states as “sanctuary” states.

California Senate OKs ‘Sanctuary’ State Bill; Critics Fear Losing Federal Money 4 April,2017Katie Orr
  • J in OKLA

    California is sending a clear message to its legal US citizens and local law enforcement that if a crime has been committed by an illegal immigrant, don’t bother going after them. The political backlash to the local police for investigating such crimes would be career ending to local elected police officials and prosecutors. With the very skewed perception the media has now placed on who the victim of a violent crime actually is, the victim is now the person who committed the crime and not the person who gets hurt or loose their life. Let a US citizen commit a crime in a foreign country and see how they get treated. Everyone seem to think the USA has become this unjust and unfair place but when we victimize the criminals (regardless of citizenship) and criminalize the true victims and police… that’s when the injustice has really occurred. So from a resident of Oklahoma to the legal citizens of California, remember that politicians making these laws in your state, they won’t be the ones who suffer the consequences of those laws… you will!

    All Politicians = Protects and serves themselves.

    Law Enforcement = Protects and serves you, don’t tie their hands.

    • Alan Dale Brown

      I think this is a complete misunderstanding of the whole concept of “sanctuary” status. It’s still enforcing criminal law on everyone – it’s just not using local forces to enforce federal immigration law. Therefore, an illegal immigrant would still be arrested like anyone else, but the local police would not put effort into investigating their immigration status. There is an argument that this improves the reporting of crime, as undocumented people who report crimes will not be afraid of being deported themselves. I don’t agree with pure sanctuary status; there are occasions when local police should hold some for ICE. However, it’s reasonable to prioritize local police on the prosecution of crimes of violence and property, rather than immigration law.

      • virgil

        What evidence—hard evidence not some anecdotes–proves that sanctuary status improves reporting of crime? What stats indicates that sanctuary cities have lower crime rates as a result of sanctuary status? I have never seen any hard evidence to support that PC party line. You got any? (And I said hard evidence not “this person said some cop told them if Juan’s third cousin wasn’t afraid of ICE he would have……..”

        • TragicRealist
          • virgil

            Interesting thanks but I would need to know more to take Wong seriously to grasp a link between sanctuary counties and non sanctuary counties. He says he controlled for economic factors and demographic factors…..I need to know more about how he did this to accept his findings.

          • virgil

            “Sanctuary counties also registered better economic conditions. On average, they had higher median incomes (by about $4,353), lower poverty (by 2.3 percent), and slightly lower unemployment rates (1.1 percent). These positive effects were exaggerated in the small counties, where the contributions of each individual immigrant were likely to have a larger impact.”—Although it is off the subject of crime, I an suspicious of this passage. Did he link better economic conditions with sanctuary status? How? Doesn’t say. Wong clams a link but at least in this report it is not said how that was established. There could be a lot of reasons that the economies are doing better in sanctuary cities like higher levels of education–maybe a larger numberr of folks with MDs, MAs and Ph.ds—hardly the result of a large number of non legal residents. There might be a lot educational and training centers—again hardly the result of the undocumented. Also maybe income is higher because middle folks use undocumented labor and save a lot money over what legal/citizen/green card labor would cost and thus you could conclude sanctuary status is enabling exploitation of undocumented labor so that middle class folks can have a fatter wallet.

          • TragicRealist

            I agree that the economic conditions appear correlative not causal. But you are making causal leaps yourself with the exploitation idea, which is a huge stretch. Any benefits of saving on nannies and such are very unlikely to be significant. However, Wong does at least provide evidence that sanctuary cities are not worse off than non-sanctuary cities, which is the alarmist myth.

          • virgil

            First it is an interesting study—I will look at more closely some time. Thanks for mentioning it. I almost never hear any advocate of sanctuary status cite a study. They almost always say “well the cop on the beat says……” as if that settles it. Although I oppose sanctuary policies I am not immune to evidence that might support it for practical reasons. As far as the economic case goes….well I was more like speculating. Let us say Wong is right and their is a link between sanctuary status cities and economic prosperity. Could be a weak link but he implies it is a strong one….but either way OK let us suppose it exists. That could mean that sanctuary status is promoting exploitation of illegal aliens. Why? The higher degrees of income, disposal income by the middle class, and business activity could be because illegal aliens are being paid less. A lot less. In fact you can count on it. When a middle class dude in Marin wants to build a redwood deck on his place and wants to employ day labor to do it..he is not going to pay prevailing union wages right? If was he would drive down to the union hiring hall or call up a state lisc. contractor right? Only one reason to go to day laborers—same quality work for a lot less $$. And that savings shows up in his bank account, in his higher disposal income etc. So by attracting illegal aliens to live in their cities w/o fear (from locals) those polices could be contributing to higher degree of economic activity but at the cost of exploiting cheaper labor.

        • Alan Dale Brown

          Here’s another study:

          I know this is anecdotal, but of the places I’ve lived with crime issues, there’s a basic failure to report crime by many community members. Some of that, is due to intimidation by gang members; but it seems logical that if the police are seen as a threat, people will not cooperate. It’s a pragmatic decision to ignore immigration status, but police enforcement often involves pragmatic decisions to address the criminal issues which have the biggest impact on quality of life.

      • SF Sunset Guy

        It’s more than just “but the local police would not put effort into investigating their immigration status. ” nonsense. The sanctuary cities have actively dis-allowed or forbidden, any, read any, cooperation with federal law enforcement when it comes to even wanted repeat felon illegal alien nationals – for instance Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, who had been deported FIVE – Count ’em, Five times. San Francisco – either its police, sheriffs and other departments would’ve known this. This is not just “lack of cooperation”, it’s obstruction.

        Moreover, how much crime are deportable people reporting? From the blather about how “little crime they commit” vis a vis US born, etc., you would easily imagine that police departments simply couldn’t function without their assistance. Silly.

        I’m not for rounding up people en mass, but nor will the thinly disguised amnesty / reform be workable. We’re going to have to split the baby with this issue, especially as the situation stands now, politically.

        • Alan Dale Brown

          The term “sanctuary city” has no legal meaning. San Francisco, in particular, is particular restrictive concerning cooperation, to a degree I disagree with. The infamous case of the shooting of a tourist last summer is an example. However, some jurisdictions whose local police enforce some, but not all immigration laws, and provide some cooperate with ICE are still being identified as sanctuary cities and counties, and are threatened with a loss of funds.

    • virgil

      Yes I agree—-it is a policy that is a slap in the face to legal immigrants as well—it says obey the immigration rules and you are a sucker.

  • Skip Conrad

    “Undocumented residents commit crimes and are incarcerated at a lower rate than native-born residents,”
    That’s because they’re given a free pass with our many sanctuary jurisdictions, meathead!

    • microlith

      A free pass? They’d have to do something wrong and have it intentionally overlooked to get a free pass. By this data they don’t actually do anything wrong other than make you upset by simply being here.

  • gbtmpgb

    ok. Is this the biggest issue for the CA residents right now? I mean legal residents who work and pays taxes are completely ignored. Even the basic services like filling pot holes is not done. But media and politicians are obsessed with non issues like this.

    • microlith

      legal residents who work and pays taxes are completely ignored

      These other people are getting attention that means I’m being completely ignored! – a pretty amusing mindset, mostly in its selfishness and complete lack of truth.

      Even the basic services like filling pot holes is not done.

      Thankfully that’s managed by an entirely different department, and not in any way mutually exclusive to this.

      • gbtmpgb

        My comment is intended for sane people with common sense. They know what I mean. Please feel free to ignore my comment.

        • virgil

          You comment makes perfect sense. SF for example spends an insane amount of city time on this issue—just look at all the time the city atty is spending suing the Trump admin over this…time, money and energy to establish the “right” of people who walked up to our borders and said “I know what your laws are and I don’t care” to get de facto legalization.

          • microlith

            SF and its administration understand that the thoughtless authoritarianism pushed by Trump doesn’t achieve anything. And the GOP refuses to participate honestly, so long as we have them in the majority they’ll rely on harassment, fearmongering, and scapegoating.

            We can approach this matter either with compassion, or with boots and batons. The GOP seems to prefer the intolerant, hateful path.

          • virgil

            First, I will save my compassion for the victims of violent illegal aliens (for example Ms Steinle who was gunned down by Sanchez Lopze) not for the offenders themselves….they (e.g. Sanchez Lopez) are just about treated as misunderstood heroes in SF!! Second, it isn’t a ? of compassion but of SF’s stupidity.Hello!! Sanchez Lopez was deported 5 times already—that is how he repaid compassion and same with Edwin Ramos’ Finally I don’t blame the illegals actually. City’s like SF have given them the definite impression that there are no consequence to being a scofflaw.

        • microlith

          Ah, so we’re only “sane [with] common sense” if we agree with you?

      • virgil

        Hey maybe we can hire some illegal aliens to fill the pot holes—everyone is happy then!!!

  • Frank Russell

    Has anyone seen the AMOUNT of U.S. tax dollars that California takes??

    It would be much easier for all of us in the other 49 states to vote for a referendum that would REDACT California’s statehood. Let these folks try to manage themselves without latching so hard to the United States government and the money collected from all good Americans.

    God Bless America.

  • virgil

    Oh Muchas Gracias stpid

  • SF Sunset Guy

    I don’t understand how it’s legal for a state, CA in this instance, to make it the law to disregard or subvert Federal law.

    • virgil

      Yeah it is like the Nullification Crisis of the 1820s. Yet CA as I get it is not saying they will not obey warrants issued by a fed judge. They are saying they will not respond to requests from ICE which are not issued by a judge but are administrative. If CA said they would reject warrants issued by a fed judge then that would be like the Nullification Crisis.

      • SF Sunset Guy

        thanks for the clarification.

        • virgil

          That is what I understand it to be….they have not said they would disregard a warrant issued by a fed immigration judge—that would be serious. They are saying they will not honor (in most cases) ICE detainment request which are just that —requests not orders along with admin warrants from ICE which are not issued by a judge. Having said that the lack of cooperation from locals is making cities like San Fran a magnet for illegal aliens. As you may know we have seen serious cases like Sanchez Lopez—deported 5 times and served time for burglary—released by SF w/o calling ICE because his crimes aren’t consider serious…and yet what did he do with his freedom. As you know he gunned down a tourist on the wharf who would still be alive (probably) had there not been a sanctuary policy. In fact a vcitims family tried to sue SF claiming their father and brothers would still be alive (gunned down by an illegal alien released by SF in spite of a lengthy criminal record) if not for SF sanctuary policy but sadly it was dismissed by the courts.

          • Whyarepeopleracist

            That would be an act of domestic terrorism to the American people. It’s
            just one more reason why America isn’t safe any more. A person that
            doesn’t understand the damage that they’re causing shouldn’t be a judge.
            It’s a very simple thing to understand. Let me try to explain it for
            all to hear. If you take two completely opposite or different cultures,
            and stick them together. you’ll end up wanting to take some ones head
            off one way are another. Let’s use a great example for this. Let’s take
            western Indians and east Indians. If the two cultures were to have met.
            They would probably start off well. they might do some trade or even
            some kind of distant relations policies. But the moment one got offended
            by the other. The east would just be done with trade for a while, but
            the west would want to scalp the east. no if’s, no and’s, or but’s about

            Now the east and the west have two different views about
            the hair. For one it is a sign of there religion to have long hair and
            to take great care of it just like the West. To the west it is a great
            honor to scalp their enemies heads. So, what just happened under our
            constitutional laws? A hate crime of religion on both sides. For the
            East. It’s that the west has Cut their hair. For the West it’s that
            they’re not allowed to freely and openly practice their own religion.
            Now most true Americans don’t care to much about some one cutting their
            hair. Seriously we pay people to cut our hair all the time, or get some
            one else to do it for us. if we don’t do it our selves. That hate crime
            could be view as a form of domestic terrorism to the people and their

            And the questions why? And how? Simple, Your own
            governments Law system isn’t trying to protect you as a member of it’s
            society any more. Your own Law system is more concerned about people
            that shouldn’t even be apart of your culture because of the differences
            in ideology. It’s the age old debate of Is it potato or pootaato. We’ll
            the answer is simplistically easy. When you go over to some one’s home
            whats the first thing most people do? They call first, and get
            permission. They don’t just show up unannounced and start carving or
            grafting up your place. What has happened to this country is simple to
            explain. Some one came over and started holding you hostage in you’re
            own home. Now they want you to serve them pie and to become best chums
            over a cup tea. If the state of California becomes a sanctuary state
            then I’ll vote for it to be annexed from the country. Then I would leave
            the not so great state country of California.

            Let me ask you
            all a great question. What is the duty and responsibility of a people’s
            elected leader? The Answer is to his or her people. Every single country
            that has ever reached a great status of an empire has fallen. Why?
            Every single empire has all ways been a multi culture. Yes that even
            includes the Nazi empire. You know the one that all most reset the
            history books. The one that was very close to making a globalized
            language. The one that would have eliminated most if not all racial
            strife in the world. yeah that one. Or how they wanted to make gold the
            stranded in stead of worthless scrapes of cotton and ink. The same
            cotton and ink that just gets reprinted when ever there isn’t any more
            to go around because to many people have over populated the world again.
            est… In fact If they had been successful They might have done a few
            other things too. Like start a war on disease by eliminating all of
            those blood sucking Miskito’s in the world. The founding fathers said it
            them selves. A House that is divided can not stand. This country has
            become so divided that no one can make up their minds, and know what it
            is that their doing when they decide to do anything at all.

  • virgil

    Sessions: stop answering the phone when Sacramento calls.


Katie Orr

Katie Orr is a Sacramento-based reporter for KQED's Politics and Government  Desk, covering the state Capitol and a variety of issues including women in politics, voting and elections and legislation. Prior to joining KQED in 2016, Katie was state government reporter for Capital Public Radio in Sacramento. She's also worked for KPBS in San Diego, where she covered City Hall.

Katie received her masters degree in political science from San Diego State University and holds a Bachelors degree in broadcast journalism from Arizona State University.

In 2015 Katie won a national Clarion Award for a series of stories she did on women in California politics. She's been honored by the Society for Professional Journalists and, in 2013, was named by The Washington Post as one of the country's top state Capitol reporters.   She's also reported for the award-winning documentary series The View from Here and was part of the team that won  national PRNDI and  Gabriel Awards in 2015. She lives in Sacramento with her husband. Twitter: @1KatieOrr

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