In what is partially seen as a rebuke to White House immigration policy, Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation Thursday which will accord protection to illegal immigrants living in California.
The nation’s most populous state, California is home to an estimated 2.3 million illegal immigrants.
“These are uncertain times for undocumented Californians and their families, and this bill strikes a balance that will protect public safety, while bringing a measure of comfort to those families who are now living in fear every day,” Brown wrote in a signing statement. “In enshrining these new protections, it is important to note what the bill does not do. This bill does not prevent or prohibit Immigration and Customs Enforcement or the Department of Homeland Security from doing their own work in any way.”
Under the terms of SB54, state law enforcement is prohibited from arresting individuals on the basis of immigration warrants, asking an individual’s immigration status or joining with federal law enforcement for the purpose of enforcing federal immigration law.
Additionally, the new law prohibits local jailhouses from housing federal detainees or holding illegal immigrants once they are declared fit for release.
The bill, however, does not bar either Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or the Department of Homeland Security from enforcing federal immigration law. Alternatively, the law refuses state cooperation with federal authorities in immigration enforcement.
Initially opposed to the bill, many state law enforcement associations dropped protests when a watered-down version was re-introduced, which allowed cooperation between state and federal authorities in for detainees who are accused of felonies or misdemeanors which can be charged as felonies.
ICE, the Justice Department and the California Sheriffs’ Association maintained opposition to the enactment of the law over potential threats to public safety.
In related California political news, Gov. Brown signed legislation Monday requiring pharmaceutical companies to publicly disclose prescription drug price increases 60 days prior if costs exceed 16 percent in a two-year period.
“Californians have a right to know why their medication costs are out of control, especially when pharmaceutical profits are soaring,” Brown said in a statement.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 176 pieces of legislation have been proposed in 36 states this year which deal with prescription drug costs and related insurance coverage.
[UPI] [Reuters] [Photo courtesy Los Angeles Times]