Capitol Alert

California's ‘sanctuary’ policy attacked in new ballot initiative

The parents of two young people killed by immigrants are leading an effort to repeal California's "sanctuary state" policy and criminalize officials who obstruct federal law.

"You're already here illegally," said Don Rosenberg, whose son Drew was hit on a motorcycle by an unlicensed driver who had been granted temporary immigration status to remain in the U.S. in 2010. "You already have no right to be here. Why are we bending over backwards for someone who commits more crimes on top of that?"

Senate Bill 54, which restricts the ability of local law enforcement to help the federal government enforce immigration violations, prompted the U.S. Department of Justice to sue California last month and survived an early referendum attempt that failed to qualify.

Now a group called Fight Sanctuary State is taking another shot at the law and announcing a new ballot measure initiative Wednesday to delete sections of the government code related to SB 54 and another law that penalizes employers who give federal immigration authorities access to employee records or buildings without a warrant.

The initiative, which likely would not appear on the ballot until 2020, goes a step further to require state and local law enforcement to notify federal authorities when they have an undocumented immigrant in custody.

The measure would also impose criminal penalties and fines on government officials who obstruct federal immigration enforcement, prohibit the Department of Motor Vehicles from issuing licenses for undocumented immigrants and require voters to provide proof of citizenship to register.

Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, on his way to a West Covina City Council meeting to defend the bill he authored, said the restrictions on rights of undocumented immigrants under the initiative suggests the "ghosts of Prop 187 are being brought back to life." The 1994 initiative, which was overturned by the courts, eliminated public services for undocumented immigrants.

“It is clear that Donald Trump’s clarion call to pit neighbor against neighbor dividing our communities is being answered," he said. "They won’t be successful in California. As the most diverse state in the world, California knows better. "

Rosenberg is joined in the effort by Agnes Gibboney, who has said her son Ronald DaSilva was shot and killed more than a decade ago by an undocumented immigrant. Fight Sanctuary State reported less than $3,500 in contributions in 2017, and Rosenberg said they plan to rely on volunteers to gather signatures until they raise more money.

"We’re going to need millions of dollars, and that’s what we’re looking at raising," he said.

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