Federal immigration authorities recently issued a directive stating that they plan to enter federal, state and local courthouses to make arrests. In response, the California State Senate approved a bill that would keep ICE agents out of courthouses if it becomes law.
Senate Bill 183 would prohibit federal immigration agents from entering state buildings to make arrests without a valid federal warrant. This means ICE agents would not be able to detain, question or conduct surveillance on anyone in buildings such as courthouses, public schools, community colleges and other state-run buildings.
Why Stop ICE from Enforcing Immigration Laws?
With a rise in ICE deportation activities and the federal government’s current attitude toward immigration, many immigrants and children of undocumented immigrants have become afraid to go to court or school for fear that they will be arrested by ICE.
As a result, crimes committed against undocumented immigrants have gone unreported and undocumented immigrants who were key witnesses in other cases have failed to show up to testify in court.
In March 2017, California’s Chief Justice, Tani Cantil-Sakauye, wrote to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly (now serving as President Trump’s White House Chief of Staff), asking their departments to cease the “stalking [of] undocumented immigrants in our courthouses to make arrests.” However, those words have gone unheeded.
“Federal immigration officials are creating a climate of fear that undermines the fundamental institutions of California’s democracy,” said the bill’s author, State Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens). “Senate Bill 183 guarantees a safe environment so students can attend classes, parents can pick up their children from school, and people can report crimes or go to court without the terror of being targeted by federal agents based on their immigration status.”
When Will SB 183 Take Effect in California?
Currently, SB 183 is a proposed law. By getting approved by the State Senate, it will now move on to the State Assembly for review.
If passed, the proposed law would add Chapter 31.5 to Division 7 of Title 1 of the Government Code. The law could go into effect by the end of 2018.
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