Immigrants suffered a life-altering blow earlier this week when President Donald Trump announced his decision to end a program that allowed young undocumented people to apply to live and work in the country without the fear of deportation.
Now advocates for the undocumented community are bracing for a possible second shot Friday, this time from California’s political leaders.
Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León introduced Senate Bill 54 in response to Trump’s campaign threats to target and deport undocumented immigrants. The measure essentially builds a wall between local law enforcement and federal immigration enforcement, with some exceptions.
De León previously accepted amendments at the request of law enforcement to allow police to respond to federal immigration requests related to inmates who are serving time for or who have been previously convicted of a violent or serious felony. Prior changes also require Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be notified at least 60 days before the scheduled release date of an undocumented immigrant who is either serving time for or has previously been convicted of a violent or serious felony, among others.
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A new round of amendments expected today, reflecting negotiations between the Brown administration and the pro tem’s office, are stirring concerns. The California Sheriffs’ Association, major opponents of the measure, have also been in communication with the governor’s office.
Gov. Jerry Brown has expressed reservations about SB 54, suggesting he wants further changes.
Advocates feared the new amendments could drastically expand a list of prior offenses that exclude an immigrant from some the protections set forth in the measure, which the sheriffs have asked for, among other key changes.
Advocates marched on the Capitol Thursday, urging lawmakers to stand their ground ahead of the anticipated amendments.
Chris Newman, legal director for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, said this week that he and other advocates were “a little bit in the dark.”
“Gov. Brown runs his office a bit like the Vatican,” Newman said, comparing the Jesuit seminarian’s process and rituals to those of the Pope.
“Our biggest fear is that he will be bullied by the sheriffs into watering down the bill,” he said.
Senate Bill 54, as conceived, was standing on the shoulders of the Trust Act, according to former Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco. Ammiano carried the Trust Act, an anti-deportation California law that was seen as a rebuke to the Obama administration and congressional inaction on immigration.
“If they are going to mess with it and water it down, I think that would be a very bad move,” said Ammiano in a phone interview.
On de León, Newman added, “Our hope and prayer will be that he uses all the political capital he now enjoys to get the best possible legislation signed into law.”
Spokespeople for De León and Brown declined to comment Thursday.
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WORTH REPEATING: “Last night we saw justice, and for sure we saw redemption.”
- Deposed Assembly GOP leader Chad Mayes, after his caucus beat Democrats in a softball game. Mayes lost his post last month after teaming with Democrats on climate legislation
DESERT BLOOM: It’s the end of the legislative session, which means many things, including some questionable day drinking, but also last-minute maneuvering on legislation that’s thought to be dead. Word sweeping through the hallways of the Capitol has it that there may be a deal in the works to revive the hotly contested Assembly Bill 1000, a heavily lobbied measure meant to scuttle a long-fought water-pumping project in the Mojave Desert by Cadiz Inc. A spokesman for Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said he could not comment on the possibility.
Despite being supported by the likes of Brown, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and several environmental groups, AB 1000 was killed in the Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens. The bill’s death contributed to the growing feud between Feinstein and de León (who is thought to be considering a Senate challenge as a leader of the state’s resistance to Trump) after Feinstein tried to tie the project to the president.
BUDGET TIME – AGAIN: More than two months after the start of the current fiscal year, several budget-related measures underwent wholesale amendments Wednesday evening and await end-of-session consideration. The newly emerged trailer bills deal with taxation and the duties of the Board of Equalization, school finance, health and human services, and marijuana regulation. Others could be on the way. One trailer bill that has yet to emerge will lay out the Legislature's approach on spending up to $1.5 billion in revenue from the state's cap-and-trade program.
TOP COP: The California Latino Legislative Caucus, a group that has grown in influence in recent years, is endorsing Attorney General Xavier Becerra in his race against the ever-persistent Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. While Jones has so far refused to directly contrast himself with Becerra, he recently tweeted that he is the only statewide elected official to formally endorse single-payer healthcare legislation.
Previously, the Latino Caucus endorsed Lara to succeed Jones as insurance commissioner, Assemblyman Tony Thurmond for superintendent of public instruction, state Sen. Ed Hernandez for lieutenant governor and Alex Padilla for reelection to Secretary of State.
MUST READ: To left-leaning activists, it’s time for Feinstein to retire. Berniecrats say the veteran senator is out of step with her own party.
CELEBRATE: Happy birthday to Assemblymen Bill Quirk, D-Hayward, who turns 72, and Freddie Rodriguez, D-Pomona, who celebrates his 52nd on Friday.
Jim Miller of The Bee Capitol Bureau contributed to this report.