Much of the debate about state immigration laws has revolved around harmful anti-immigrant measures in states like Alabama and Arizona. But in California, state lawmakers are working to pass an “anti-Arizona” bill that would protect undocumented immigrants. The legislation would prevent local law enforcement officials from referring a detainee to immigration officials for deportation unless the person detained has been convicted of a violent or serious felony. “California cannot afford to become another Arizona,” said California Assembly member Tom Ammiano, who sponsored the bill:
The California bill, which has the support of over 100 immigrant rights groups, police chiefs and mayors, was drafted not only as a symbolic counter to legislation in neighboring Arizona, but also to push back against a federal program called Secure Communities that shares the same principles as Arizona’s law, supporters say.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, or ICE, established the Secure Communities program in partnership with local law enforcement agencies and the FBI to deport unauthorized immigrants. [...]
The federal program has been responsible for deporting over 72,000 Californians, according to Ammiano, with 70 percent of those deported from the state having either no criminal conviction, or conviction for a minor offense.
By a 21-13 vote, state senators approved the bill Thursday, which now heads to the California Assembly for consideration.
Following the Supreme Court’s ruling on Arizona’s SB 1070 — in which the court allowed the “show me your papers” provision to go into effect after limiting it — federal officials ended Secure Communities partnerships with seven Arizona law enforcement offices. A DHS official said the Obama administration determined that the agreements are “not useful” now in states that have Arizona-style laws.