California rang in the New Year by officially becoming a sanctuary state when SB 54, called the California Values Act, went into effect on Jan. 1. This bill mandates that law enforcement agents and public institutions, such as University of California campuses and public hospitals, cannot inquire into an individual’s immigration status or detain individuals on a hold request from federal immigration enforcement agencies like I.C.E (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement).
SB 54 aims to establish a relationship of trust between California’s immigrant communities and the state’s law enforcement officials.
“This trust is threatened when state and local agencies are entangled with federal immigration enforcement, with the result that immigrant community members fear approaching police when they are victims of, and witnesses to, crimes, seeking basic health services, or attending school, to the detriment of public safety and the well-being of all Californians,” the bill states in section 3.
According to the Public Policy Institute of California, there are more than 10 million immigrants in California and about a quarter of them are undocumented. California counties with the highest immigrant populations include, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Alameda, Imperial, Orange and Monterey.
Although it is unclear how the sanctuary state designation will affect DACA (Delayed Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients, SB 54 acknowledges the important role immigrants play in the state.
“Immigrants are valuable and essential members of the California community. Almost one in three Californians is foreign born and one in two children in California has at least one immigrant parent,” SB 54 states in section 3.