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California Lawmakers Pass 'Sanctuary State' Bill


California is pushing back against immigration hardliners in Washington, D.C. Early this morning, the state legislature passed a bill to create what they call a sanctuary state. From member station KQED, Scott Shafer has more.

SCOTT SHAFER, BYLINE: The California Values Act was introduced just before Donald Trump took office. Its goal - to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation. In the state assembly Friday, the debate was personal and emotional. Democratic assemblyman Joaquin Arambula from Fresno remembered his grandparents who came to California illegally.


JOAQUIN ARAMBULA: This bill here today helps some of us to believe that California is a safe place for immigrants, that we are a golden state.

SHAFER: The bill places limits on how much local law enforcement can cooperate with federal immigration agencies that want custody of undocumented immigrants. It's similar to a law Oregon enacted 30 years ago without much fanfare. Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher from San Diego said many of her constituents are afraid of being deported.


LORENA GONZALEZ FLETCHER: It's real fear - the kind that makes people stop you on the street and well up in tears, of families being torn apart because we have not fixed a broken immigration system.

SHAFER: After the State Senate passed the sanctuary state bill back in April, local sheriffs convinced Governor Jerry Brown it would endanger public safety. So the bill was amended giving local law enforcement more flexibility to contact immigration officials when they have someone in custody with a history of serious or violent crimes. But that didn't satisfy Republicans, including James Gallagher.


JAMES GALLAGHER: A lot of people talk about building a wall, this builds a wall between our local government and our federal partners and makes our communities less safe.

SHAFER: In the end, Democrats in both houses used their super majorities to pass the legislation. The bill's author, Senate president Kevin de Leon, says it sends a signal to Washington. It now goes to Governor Brown who is sure to sign it. For NPR News, I'm Scott Shafer in Sacramento. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Shafer