SACRAMENTO, Calif. >> The leader of the California Senate wants to bar police from sharing information with federal deportation agents about immigrants being released from custody to protect them from President-elect Donald Trump’s plans to boost deportations.
The bill introduced by Democratic Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon would prevent law enforcement from heeding requests by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be notified when immigrants are being released from local jails. It would also ban federal agents from interviewing inmates for deportation purposes and prohibit immigration enforcement in public schools, hospitals and courthouses.
“I cannot wait and allow federal ICE agents to use state and local dollars, data, personnel, and facilities to help deport the very families who contribute so much to our economy and community,” de Leon said in a statement on Wednesday.
Since Trump’s election, Democratic lawmakers have proposed a series of bills aimed at protecting California’s more than 10 million foreign-born residents.
De Leon’s bill goes to the heart of ICE’s latest effort to get local police to help them take immigrants into custody from jails for deportation.
Immigration agents last year began asking police to notify them when immigrant inmates were slated for release so they could pick them up. The move came after many jurisdictions — including California — started refusing to honor agents’ requests to detain inmates for deportation.
It also came amid an uproar following last year’s shooting death of Kate Steinle in San Francisco allegedly by a man who had been repeatedly deported and was released by local law enforcement even though immigration agents wanted him for deportation.
California law bans police from detaining immigrants for ICE in some cases, but many jurisdictions refuse to detain anyone for deportation, citing community and legal concerns.
Under de Leon’s bill, police could continue to share information about people’s criminal convictions with ICE. Authorities could also transfer immigrants to ICE provided the agency has a judicial warrant.
Senate Republican leader Jean Fuller, R-Bakersfield, said the proposal needs scrutiny.
“Passions are still high after the last election, and I hope we can all agree to take a deep breath and avoid a rush to introduce legislation like this,” Fuller said in a statement. “We need to support our law enforcement and make sure that the Legislature is not passing bills that would limit their ability to keep all Californians safe. We will carefully consider this proposal to make sure there are no unintended consequences that could put California’s safety in jeopardy.”
State Sen. John Moorlach, a Republican from Costa Mesa, said he’d like de Leon to form a team to work with, not against, the federal government on immigration.
“Collaboration would be a better approach from a leadership standpoint than just trying to poke a stick in the new president’s eye,” he said.
An ICE spokeswoman said the agency does not comment on pending legislation.