The State Worker

Immigration agents barred from California schools, state buildings under new bill

Schools and state-owned buildings would be off-limits to federal immigration agents under a California bill that would force officers to get warrants before they visit public sites for surveillance or arrests.

Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, submitted the bill last week, three days after President Donald Trump announced that he would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protects some young immigrants from deportation. He plans to move it forward in January, after the end of the current legislative session.

“Courthouses, schools and other state offices are a refuge for millions of the most vulnerable Californians, and immigrants should not be afraid to come to court or take their children to school,” Lara said in a written statement.

He submitted the new amendments to Senate Bill 183 on Friday, replacing a bill that would have helped Native American tribes obtain exemptions from marine mammal protection laws. SB 183 asserts that the presence of immigration agents at public buildings deters residents from paying fines, reporting crimes or cooperating with state investigations.

The bill follows steps three state leaders have taken to keep agents from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement away from their offices.

California Superintendent Tom Torlakson has encouraged schools to declares themselves as “safe havens” from immigration enforcement. Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking the federal government to refrain from “stalking” undocumented California residents near courts, and Labor Commissioner Julie Su in July issued guidelines to her staff directing them to turn away ICE agents.

The University of California also has filed a lawsuit to block the Trump administration from ending DACA protections.

Trump administration officials argue that California’s efforts to protect some immigrants through sanctuary city policies create a dangerous environment for immigration enforcement, motivating immigration officers to watch suspects at public locations, such as courts.

Sanctuary city policies “threaten public safety, rather than enhance it,” Sessions and then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly wrote to Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye in March.

Adam Ashton: 916-321-1063, @Adam_Ashton. Sign up for state worker news alerts at