Dec. 7, 2016 – Today, community and civil rights groups across the state are hailing the introduction of the California Values Act, SB 54 by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De León. In a direct challenge to Donald Trump’s threats to deport millions of people, the bill will make sure that California does not use any state or local resources to fuel mass deportations or discrimination.
Specifically, the CA Values Act will keep California law enforcement out of painful deportations which separate families and communities, damage public safety, and undercut due process. The bill would ensure that public officials such as police, sheriffs, and school security officers are not involved in reporting, arresting, detaining, or turning community members over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for deportation. It would also keep schools, hospitals, and courts safe and accessible, with each developing a clear policy to limit deportation activities on their premises to the fullest extent possible.
Other key provisions of the CA Values Act would guarantee that California plays no part in creating any kind of national registry to profile Muslims or other groups at risk of discrimination, barring state and local officials from providing information on religion, national origin, or other protected characteristics. The bill would also bolster confidentiality practices at state agencies so immigrants can continue to successfully participate in California’s public life.
Cynthia Buiza, Executive Director of the California Immigrant Policy Center, stated: “The California Values Act answers the ugly slurs of xenophobia with a simple but profound truth: all people are created equal. Against Trump and other forces who seek to demonize and persecute immigrants, the Golden State must embrace and defend our common humanity and deepest values. Getting law enforcement out of painful deportations, protecting the integrity of public spaces, and rejecting any registry which targets Muslims will send a potent message to the nation – and the world.”
The federal government’s attempts to turn local law enforcement into deportation agents have long met resistance in California, with years of community organizing and advocacy leading to the successful passage of the TRUST Act in 2013 and the TRUTH Act just this year. The TRUTH Act, which goes into effect on January 1, 2017, will limit abusive interrogations by ICE agents in local jails. The TRUST Act, effective in 2014, limited cruel and costly ICE “hold” requests to detain immigrants for extra time in local jails for deportation purposes. A series of federal court rulings later found such holds to be unconstitutional, largely ending the unjust practice in California.
ICE’s deportation practices continue to violate principles of due process and probable cause, with immigrants languishing in detention for long periods without even seeing a judge. Thus, the CA Values Act requires that even if no state or local resources are implicated, no one will be transferred to ICE without a warrant signed by a judge – an additional safeguard against mistakes and abuses.
The campaign for the CA Values Act is anchored in the experiences and leadership of immigrant community members themselves. Community groups urge the public to recognize the humanity of people who have had arrests or convictions and to think critically about attempts by anti-immigrant forces to demonize immigrants. Cases like that of Jose Alvarez of Long Beach, who served his time decades ago for a drug felony but was recently torn from his six U.S. Citizen-children (one of whom is a veteran), and Los Angeles Grandmother Xochitl Hernández, facing deportation due to false accusations of gang association, illustrate the human cost of criminalization.
The California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC) advances inclusive policies that build a prosperous future for all Californians, using policy analysis, advocacy and capacity building to unlock the power of immigrants in California. www.caimmigrant.org