California bill protecting immigrants closer to approval

California Gov. Jerry Brown left and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon D Los Angeles

The California Legislature Saturday passed a "sanctuary state" bill to protect immigrants without legal residency in the USA, part of a broader push by Democrats to counter expanded deportation orders under the Trump administration.

Senate Bill 149, which was introduced as a direct rebuke of President Trump's refusal to release his most recent tax returns, passed California's State Assembly on Thursday, having already passed the Senate.

California lawmakers early Saturday sent Gov. "The only thing this bill provides a sanctuary for is unsafe criminals", said Assemblyman James Gallagher, a Republican from Nicolaus.

California's immigration laws are considered among the friendliest in the country and the state is often referred to as a "sanctuary state".

Earlier, the bill also would have prevented local and state law enforcement from relaying information to federal immigration officers unless it was about a person convicted of a violent or serious crime. Many, they said, have been afraid to go to school or to take their sick children to the hospital since President Donald Trump - who promised widespread deportations as part of a crackdown on illegal immigration - has been president.

Democrats used supermajorities in the state Capitol to pass the bill they viewed as important to highlighting California's stance on shielding its estimated 2.3 million undocumented immigrants from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"These amendments do not mean to erode the core mission of this measure, which is to protect hardworking families that have contributed greatly to our culture and the economy", he said.

More updates to follow on the passage of Senate Bill 54.

The organization put out a release earlier this week, saying that "California's front-line law enforcement officers do not now engage in, and have no intention of engaging in, immigration enforcement in the field". The Trump administration is playing politics with public safety.

"This bill here today helps some of us to believe that California is a safe place for immigrants, that we are a Golden State", said Democratic Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula, the grandson of immigrants who came to California illegally.

The bill faced some opposition, including from the California State Sheriffs' Association.

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