California Assembly Approves “Anti-Arizona” Immigration Legislation

Only days after the United States Supreme Court deemed several components Arizona’s immigration reform law to be unconstitutional, the California’s Senate passed a bill on July 5 on a 21 to 13 vote that protects immigrants without U.S. citizenship from being detained by law enforcement officials regarding their legal status unless they are previously convicted of a serious or violent felony. The new bill, also known as the California Trust Act, is backed up by an estimated 100 immigration rights groups, mayors and police chiefs throughout the state.

According to The Los Angeles Times, the bill was put in place in hopes of deterring the controversial federally-mandated Secure Communities fingerprint sharing program. According to the source, the state is estimated to have 2.55 million illegal immigrants currently living there.

The legislation moved through the state’s Assembly in a 47 to 26 vote and will return for a concurrence before moving to Governor Jerry Brown.

Chris Newman, legal director for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, told the Los Angeles Times that the new bill echoes the state’s support of immigration.

“Arizona and its governor may view all immigrants as criminals,” Newman said. “But in California we have a different view.”

The federally-mandated Secure Communities program has been responsible for deporting more than 72,000 Californians, 70 percent of them had no previous criminal record, according to Reuters. Despite the initial approval of the statewide measure, it is unlikely that the new bill will allow the state to remove itself from the program, the California State Sheriff’s Association has said in the past that state nor local authorities will be able to opt out.