In a disappointing but hardly surprising decision, California lawmakers passed SB 54 along party lines, 27-11. Officially named the California Values Act, the approved SB 54 text is a somewhat diluted version of the original draft prepared for Governor Jerry Brown’s review. After talking with Brown, Senate Pro Tem President Kevin de Leon reluctantly agreed to amendments that would allow federal immigration authorities to keep working with state corrections officials and to continue entering county jails to question aliens.
Now headed to Governor Brown’s desk, SB 54 would also permit police and sheriffs to share information and transfer people to immigration authorities if they have been convicted of one or more crimes from a list of 800 outlined in a previous law, the California Trust Act.
The revised SB 54, however, bars state and local law enforcement agencies from using their resources, including money, facility, property, equipment or personnel, to help with immigration enforcement. As de Leon previously boasted, SB 54 will “freeze out ICE.” Also, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation must develop new, looser standards for detaining aliens on immigration violations, and allow alien inmates to receive credits toward sentences serviced if they undergo rehabilitation and educational programs while in jail.
Sacramento’s decision defies the sensible, safety-first position the California Sheriffs Association supports. And ironically, the Sacramento vote came during the same week that NBC Bay Area News reported that a Central American illegal alien and asylum claimant, Erick Garcia-Pineda, is a murder suspect who allegedly killed 23-year-old Abel Ezquivel with a gun stolen from a San Francisco police officer’s off-duty revolver. Other charges against Garcia-Pineda include five robberies and two other murders. Garcia-Pineda was on Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s radar; he had been wearing an ICE-issued GPS tracking bracelet at the time of the murder.
San Francisco is the site of previous tragic alien-perpetrated murders: Kate Steinle and Tony Bologna with his two sons, Michael and Matthew. The Steinle, Bologna, and Ezquivel murders as well as many others prove what acting ICE director told a town hall in March: California’s politicians have “chosen to prioritize politics over public safety,” and that SB 54 “severely undermines that effort and will make California communities less safe.”
After the vote, Department of Justice spokesman Devin O'Malley said “state lawmakers inexplicably voted today to return criminal aliens back onto our streets.”
Assuming President Trump’s avowed commitment to immigration law enforcement is sincere, the administration should challenge SB 54 up to the Supreme Court, and also challenge the Chicago federal district court’s ruling that will impose a nationwide ban on withholding DOJ government assistance grants to sanctuary cities.