California Senate passes immigration bill protecting non-felony detainees

California Senate passes immigration bill protecting non-felony detainees

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[JURIST] The California Senate [official website] Thursday approved a bill that prevents local police officers from turning over a detained individual to federal immigration authorities unless the detainee has been convicted of a felony. The California Trust Act [AB 1081, materials] passed the Senate by a vote of 21-13 and seeks to prevent allegedly unjust detentions for undocumented immigrants who have not committed felonies, as well as limit the strain that federal immigration laws impose on local authorities. Assemblyman Tom Ammiano [official website], who sponsored the bill, declared that it provides an alternative model to more restrictive immigration laws [Reuters report] such as Arizona’s. The bill passed the state Assembly by a vote of 47-26. It will go back to the Assembly later this summer for a concurrence vote before heading to governor Jerry Brown.

Immigration [JURIST backgrounder] has been a contentious topic in the US in recent years. Last week the US Supreme Court [official website] partially struck down Arizona’s immigration law [opinion PDF; JURIST report], but upheld a controversial provision that requires police officers to check the immigration status of anyone whom they arrest. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer [official website] stated [JURIST report] following the Supreme Court’s decision that future enforcement of Arizona’s immigration law will not violate the US Constitution. Earlier in June, the Obama administration issued a directive [JURIST report] to stop deporting many young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children.