California protects undocumented immigrants with Senate Bill 54

VENOOS MOSHAYEDI / AGGIE FILE

What SB 54 means for City of Davis

On Thursday, Oct. 5, Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 54, which will take effect on Jan. 1, 2018. This senate bill utilizes the state’s power to counteract the Trump administration’s actions taken toward undocumented immigrants.

“This bill would, among other things and subject to exceptions, prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies, including school police and security departments, from using money or personnel to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect, or arrest persons for immigration enforcement purposes, as specified, and would, subject to exceptions, proscribe other activities or conduct in connection with immigration enforcement by law enforcement agencies,” the bill reads.

With the signing of SB54, undocumented people are better protected from being subject to deportation for things such as reporting a possible crime to the authorities.

“This is an action that basically asks ICE to not hold people without probable cause,” Davis Mayor Robb Davis said. “You can’t unconstitutionally hold someone without probable cause.”

In addition, since the California Constitution requires that state reimburse agencies for state-mandated costs, the bill could require reimbusements if deemed fit. California law enforcement agencies are also not allowed to inquire about immigration status or make arrests based solely on civil immigration warrants.

As for the City of Davis, there is little projected effect, seeing as Davis has already been a sanctuary city for a long time.

“We’re a sanctuary city,” Davis said. “What this basically does for the state of California is what we’ve also committed to doing as a city.”

Davis went along to add that this new bill would be beneficial in terms of public safety.

“I think it has a very positive effect on public safety because one of the concerns that undocumented people have is fear of approaching a police officer — if they’re subject to deportation, they’re more likely not to come forward,” Davis said. “It is absolutely clear that this has a positive impact on public safety.”

In addition, the City of Davis does not have an internment facility, so detainees would never be held within the city.

“Davis is already a sanctuary city, and we do not actually have jail facilities — that’s done at the county level,” said Davis Mayor Pro Tempore Brett Lee. “I don’t think [SB 54] will make a large difference in either direction. The state bill is fairly symbolic — I think that a lot of municipalities have already had their police forces work on local issues and not immigration issues. Most large metropolitan areas of California already have some guidance in place sort of similar to what the state legislation is requiring. I think it’s an important symbolic measure really kind of differentiating what the majority of the Californians feel compared to what’s going on at the national level.”

Lee also elaborated on the difference between state and federal powers in regard to the senate bill.

“There are certain powers that are set aside for states and for the federal government,” Lee said. “Constitutionally, the state is not able to tell the federal government what they can and can’t do […] As much as we don’t like some of the foreign wars we’re involved with, that’s not really under the state’s control. Immigration, from my understanding, is a federal function. [SB 54] is an important symbolic gesture. I’m just not really sure that the state has the ability to curtail the federal government’s powers that are given to it by the constitution.”

Since Davis was declared a sanctuary city in 1986, Chief Darren Pytel of the Davis Police Department does not expect SB 54 to have a major effect on the city.

“I don’t anticipate that it will have any effect on the City of Davis since our policy is substantially in line with SB 54 already,” Pytel said.

With the increasing amount of protests from Dreamers in response to DACA’s repeal, this new senate bill seeks to provide some sort of sanctuary in the state of California as well as relief for undocumented people. Davis went on to reiterate what Davis as a city has already been about for several decades.

“We’re fully supportive of it,” Davis said.

 

Written By: Kaelyn Tuermer-Lee — city@theaggie.org

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