Inland immigrant rights groups last week demonstrated their support for California’s sanctuary state bill by meeting with representatives at the capitol and hosting a rally in Downtown San Bernardino.
“In order to stump fear, deportations, and [racial] profiling, we need to ensure there is no [collusion] between [U.S] Immigration and Customs Enforcement and local law enforcement,” said Inland Congregations United for Change organizer Lyzzeth Mendoza. “We stand with the Values Act.”
Senate Bill 54, known as the California Values Act, intended to prohibit local and state law enforcement agencies from using resources to assist federal immigration authorities with their operations.
The bill’s author Senator Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) introduced a new amendment to the bill that will require state prisons and county jails to notify the FBI 60 days before releasing an undocumented immigrant with a violent felony conviction. De Leon introduced the amendment after Republican lawmakers and the state’s Sheriff’s Association blasted the bill for failing to address concerns with criminal immigrants. They argued that the initial bill would harbor criminal illegal immigrants that held felony records from ICE.
Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff posted a letter on his Facebook page on March 17, explaining his opposition to the bill.
“This bill creates a severe public safety problem by limiting, and in some cases eliminating, our ability to communicate with our federal government law enforcement partners,” Sniff wrote. “SB 54 could result in potentially dangerous offenders being released to our streets and endanger[ing] our citizens.”
Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice Director Javier Hernandez said immigrant rights groups are asking that no further “carve outs” be made to the bill.
“This is the strongest bill that would protect our communities against deportations and family separations,” Hernandez said. “We are deeply concerned and disappointed that Sheriff Sniff and the California Sheriff’s Association would take a position to side and support the federal government. As elected officials, they should listen to the concerns of the community. Opposing SB 54 is putting in jeopardy the trust immigrant communities have placed in law enforcement which endangers public safety.”
Faith based leaders from across California visited their local representatives in Sacramento last Wednesday–demanding they protect the rights of undocumented immigrants and religious freedom.
“It is this [Presidential] administration that has declared law and order,” PICO California Co-Executive Director Rev. Ben McBride expressed. “We are living in a different moment. And this different moment is going to call upon us to have different kind of courage and different kind of conversation.”
Earlier in the day, De Leon promised immigrant rights and faith based groups that Democratic state leaders will continue to support immigrants, regardless of what takes place in Washington D.C.
“[President] Trump has not changed the values of our nation,” De Leon said during a rally outside the capitol building. “We refuse to regress to the politics of scapegoating.”