On March 13, Senate Bill 54 (The California Values Act) passed the Appropriations Committee hearing with a 5-2 vote and now moves to the Senate Floor. Sen. Joel Anderson, 38th District has strongly opposed SB54 “Sanctuary” bill saying that it is the greatest single threat to Dreamers and immigrants that have committed no crimes except crossing the border illegally. He also said this bill would strain California’s budget, place violent criminals back into our neighborhoods and cripple our law enforcement agencies.
On March 13, Senate Bill 54 (The California Values Act) passed the Appropriations Committee hearing with a 5-2 vote and now moves to the Senate Floor. Sen. Joel Anderson, 38th District has strongly opposed SB54 “Sanctuary” bill saying that it is the greatest single threat to Dreamers and immigrants that have committed no crimes except crossing the border illegally. He also said this bill would strain California’s budget, place violent criminals back into our neighborhoods and cripple our law enforcement agencies. If passed, this bill would go into effect immediately.
Anderson said Dreamers and undocumented immigrants are more protected by the 2013 Trust Act and that SB54 would compromise the safety net for them by not allowing ICE (United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to work within the state criminal system in locating and deporting criminal felons
In 2013 Gov. Jerry Brown approved the Trust Act. The 2013 Trust Act (Assembly Bill No. 4) that limits local law enforcement from working with ICE and giving information to ICE on misdemeanors.
“So if you get a broken taillight, they don’t turn you over,” said Anderson. “What the Trust Act did is prioritize felons first. By not communicating with sheriffs and local police to ICE over a broken taillight prioritized the felons. We have 11,661 deportable felons right now identified in our prison system, with roughly 30 prisons. So the system works.”
Anderson said it is important that everyone understand that there is no state law that preempts federal law.
“An ICE agent can execute on federal law anytime, anywhere, no matter what our state does. When this bill was first introduced it shielded all of these felons from deportation because it said no state employee or local law enforcement agency, can’t talk to them (ICE), can’t let them use our resources, can’t communicate in any shape or form,” he said.
SB54 introduced by Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin De León District 24, Law enforcement:
Sharing data would repeal existing law that a person arrested for a violation of specified controlled substance provisions may not be a citizen; the arresting agency shall notify the appropriate agency having charge of deportation matters. Victims and witnessed to a hate crime not charged of committing any crime under state law may not be detained for any actual or suspected immigration violation or reported to federal immigration authorities. It prohibits law enforcement agencies, including school police and security departments from using resources to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect or arrest persons for immigration enforcement purposes.
SB54 also states that state and local law enforcement agencies and department shall not (for deportation or federal immigration purposes) do any of the following:
Respond to hold, notification and transfer requests. Inquire into or collect information about an individual’s immigration status. Detain an individual on the basis of a hold request. Respond to requests for notification or transfer. Provide personal information, including a person’s release date, home or work address. Make arrests based on civil immigration warrants. Give federal immigration authorities access to interview individuals. Perform the functions of an immigration officer.
The Board of Parole Hearings, county jails with inmates serving a term of a misdemeanor with a prior violent felony may contact the Federal Bureau of Investigations at least 60 days prior to release. “The only nonpublicly available personal information that the notification may include is the name of the person is scheduled to be released and the scheduled date of release.”
However, Anderson said, the list of 23 crimes defined in the statute as violent felonies excludes several violent crimes:
Threats to a crime victim or witness, active participant in a criminal street gang, felonies committed for gang purposes, vehicular manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, battery with serious bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, rape when a victim is incapable of giving consent, rape by intoxicating substance, unconscious rape, criminal threats, arson, attempted arson, burglary, grand theft firearm, any felony involving use of a deadly weapon and exploding a destructive device or explosive with the intent to injure are some of the felonies excluded from SB54.
In many of the jails, including San Diego, ICE agents rent space and have access to the computers. ICE agents are looking for the undocumented felons to report, not local law enforcement agencies. The strategy from day one is that sheriffs and local police focus on local and state laws, he said.
“They want undocumented communities to feel comfortable enough to report crimes, child molesters, murderers or rapists,” he said. “They want to work with them as partners. They don’t want to be doing that work (immigration enforcement), and they are not paid to do that work, and it is not their jurisdiction. But they do make their jails assessable to ICE agents.”
ICE recently did a raid in Los Angeles with warrants for 150 felons. When they swept the neighborhoods and the felon in question was not there, they asked everyone for their paperwork. The end resulted in 19 people deported that were not on the warrant lists.
“They have the right to execute a federal law anytime, anywhere,” he said. “Colleges, school campuses, anywhere they want because state law can’t prohibit it. So there is no such thing as sanctuary. Sanctuary really means that we are going to prioritize with the 11,661 felons in prison and with only a few ICE agents. They will never run out of felons. If the felons were caught in the jail there would be no reason for these neighborhood sweeps. But they are in the community doing these raids because these felons slipped through the cracks.”
Anderson said SB54 is a departure from California’s “felons first” policy under the Trust Act, and will return serious felons into our communities forcing ICE to increase neighborhood sweeps.
“If you want to bring up that you want to talk about undocumented immigrants, the leftists will say you are racist. I submit to you, that if you cannot admit that we have more than 11,000 undocumented felons serving in our prisons, convicted of felonies like rape, murder and child molesters, then you are a crime denier,” he said. “If I can prevent a child molester from returning to my community and potentially preying on someone in my community, then I want to deport them. What about all of the other child molesters? Shouldn’t it be equal? Yes. If I could find another country stupid enough to accept our child molesters, I’d deport them too. But unfortunately they are homegrown and we are stuck with them. But we seem stupid enough that we allow them to send their child molesters to us and people are fighting to keep them in our community putting children at risk.”
Anderson said Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in January that the most heinous criminals need deportation and that sentiment was echoed by Los Angeles past mayor Antonio Villaraigosa that these people should not be returned to our communities.
“If you believe Dreamers should not be deported, the greatest threat to getting Dreamers deported is SB54,” Anderson said. “Because you don’t give access to felons in SB54 that are in prison, that forces ICE into neighborhoods going door to door searching for these felons. And ICE has said they will pick up everybody that is undocumented. They don’t care. No ICE agent gets excited about deporting a Dreamer in general. But if they can get a murderer, child molester in the process, they can sleep better at night knowing that they have made the community a safer place.”
Anderson said in an interview an ICE agent said, “When you deny me access to the jails, I’m coming into your neighborhoods. I’m going after those felons and I’m taking everyone else along on the way.”
Anderson said though his argument to De León carved out murderers that because our penal code is so complicated it left out many violent crimes and that SB54 shields these felons because they are convicted by the state and a federal warrant is needed to get them deported.
“On to the amendment if you rape a woman and she is conscience, capable of giving consent, ICE would be given access to deport you,” he said. “However if you drugged her, if she was mentally incapable of making that decision, if she was under the age of consent, passed out from alcohol and you raped her, SB54 would protect you. So when they say they took out the most heinous criminals, they left many out. When felons are deported, they are done so at the end of their sentence not allowing a return to the community. SB54 shields them so they can return into the community.”
Anderson said the state would suffer financially if SB54 makes it all the way. Federal funds are available to offset the cost of all of this work. “But under SB54 we lose the ability to apply for these grants because we no longer qualify for these grants because we are shielding felons. In our prison system we this year we received $50.6 million for housing those felons that are deportable,” he said.
Anderson said if SB54 is passed into law, $117.6 million is a risk because California may no longer qualify for those funds. He said because he knew that he would be fact checked, his numbers are extremely conservative but that he believes the numbers would be much higher.
There is an estimated $105 billion in federal government funding to California’s $274 billion state budget. This means that approximately 38 percent of the state’s budget comes from federal money. The State Criminal Alien Assistance Program funds $50.6 million, a reimbursement for the cost of incarcerating unauthorized immigrants. The State Criminal Assistance Program for Local Sheriffs is reimbursed $16.8 million for the cost of incarcerating unauthorized immigrants. ICE pays $40,000 per bed that it rents from local jails. “This number could go much higher, but it would take a lot of research to see what we are really losing,” he said.
Anderson pulled numbers from some county sheriffs. Kings County has $66,000 in federal funds at risk if this bill passes. Kern County $453,000 and Sacto County $465,000.
“These are small counties,” he said. “When I was talking to the sheriff at Kings County, he has 400 people in his jail, 19 are deportable. But he says, ‘That’s $66,000 for my small county. That means if I lose that I have to think long and hard whether or not I can retain all of my sheriffs.’ It may lead to fewer deputies or police officers on the streets, but when you take $117 million away, you are crippling law enforcement.”
Anderson said that if we lose that funding does not mean that we will not have to pay that burden. When you relieve the federal government from funds, the state, taxpayers have to pay double. They pay the federal government for immigration enforcement and then pay the state for the same enforcement because we failed to meet the rules to qualify.
“Trump did not take it away from us. It is still out there for us. It’s California’s failure to meet the requirements to receive the grants,” he said. “And the grants are simple. They want access to our prisons to deport the folks. They are not asking our correctional officers to do the work. The sheriff in Kern County rents space to ICE. They are embedded in his jail. They do it, as well as San Diego city. You ask any law enforcement agency and they will tell you they get a lot of money of offset the cost. And their officers are not doing the work. ICE is. They are just giving them access. With SB54, they would be prohibited and could not rent space to them.”
In a letter to Senator Patricia Bates, Orange County Sheriff’s Department Sheriff-Coroner Sandra Hutchens stated she opposes SB54. As currently written this bill would hinder Orange County Sheriff’s Department to carry out basic public safety, restrict local law enforcement’s ability to interact with federal authorities and have sever impacts on the County’s budget due to provisions impacting federal agreements. “At the outset I want to make clear that enforcing immigration law is a federal government responsibility. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department does not play a role in the enforcement of these laws, and it is not part of our primary mission…Federal Immigration and ICE officers carry out their duties in our communities, but the Sheriff’s Department does not play a role in their day-to-day work…I am particularly concerned that SB54’s restrictions on sharing information with the federal immigration authorities will prevent us from removing violent offenders from our community, impede task force work and significantly jeopardize key funding resources.”
Out of its 2016 arrests less than one percent qualified under the Trust Act for an ICE detainer. Charges ranged from homicide, rape, possession of weapons, to driving under the influence. Under the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) in the fiscal year 2015-16 the Orange County Sheriff’s Department received $5.35 in SCAAP funding and are budgeted for $7.27 million this year. In its lease agreement with ICE for jail bed space, the OCSD has leased up to 838 jail beds. This agreement generates and estimated $22 million annually.
According to De León, the purpose of this bill is to “protect the safety and well-being of all Californians by ensuring that state and local resources are not used to fuel mass deportations, separate families and ultimately hurt the California economy.” President Donald Trump’s “executive orders and the accompanying Department of Homeland Security memorandums outline a mass deportation strategy that will encompass a broad category of immigrants. Any expansion of federal deportation efforts will have a significant effect of California’s economy and society.” He further states that California is already familiar with the harmful effects of entangling local law enforcement agencies with immigration enforcement.
“The California Values act will provide essential safeguards to ensure that police, health facilities and courts remain accessible to Californians from all walks of life and that California’s limited resources are directed to matters of greatest concern to state and local governments.”
SB54 requires all public schools, health facilities, courthouses, and other agencies that deal with health and wellness to adopt such polices.