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California Is Now a Sanctuary State: What Does This Mean for Immigrants?

By virtue of Senate Bill 54, which was signed in October 2017 and is expected to go into effect in January 2018, the state of California is now officially a sanctuary jurisdiction for immigrants. This new law, which was subject to significant criticism by President Donald Trump and the White House, allows state and municipal law enforcement officers to limit the cooperation they provide to federal agencies such as the United States Customs and Border Protection as well the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Prior to the passing of this law, which is titled the California Values Act, the Golden State was known for its large number of sanctuary cities, municipal jurisdictions where local police departments have policies against collaborating with immigration officials engaged in deportation operations, particularly of immigrants who do not have a criminal background. Police departments in Los Angeles and San Francisco have been operating in this fashion since the late 1970s. Starting in 2018, law enforcement agencies across California will no longer share certain databases with immigration agents, and they will not detain or transfer undocumented immigrants at the behest of federal officials.

California is home to 2.3 million immigrants who will now be able to live their lives without fearing a traffic ticket or misdemeanor arrest will put them at risk of deportation. The legislative action undertaken by California has been labeled as being highly political in the sense that it goes clearly against the anti-immigration agenda of the Trump administration. However, there is also an economic factor at stake since most undocumented immigrants are taxpayers who contribute to the economy of the Golden State.

In essence, the California Values Act seeks to protect all immigrant residents from potential abuses by overzealous federal actions such as mass deportations. Immigrants in California, regardless of their status, can now visit courthouses and state agencies without fearing their information will be given to immigration agents, and they can also feel safe when interacting with police officers. 

While this new law is certainly good news for immigrants and immigration lawyers in San Diego, CA, it is important to remember the Trump administration is still practicing its expanded immigration enforcement policies, which means the threat of mass deportations is still a concern. Federal agents are still operating in California and carrying out questionable practices such as workplace raids. Immigrants in the Golden State will have legal recourse if they believe a state agency has leaked or shared their personal information with immigration officials. 

In addition to its sanctuary state status, California has also enacted various laws for the benefit of its large immigrant population. Some of these laws include legal services for immigrants facing deportation, healthcare coverage for children whose immigration status is still undocumented, and access to driving licenses. There’s also the California Dream Act, which provides tuition assistance to immigrant students who are excelling in terms of academic performance in higher education.

Though the California Values Act is a step in the right direction, immigrants to this state still need to follow certain laws and procedures. At KS Visa Law, we can assist with a wide array of immigration-related needs, from family law immigration to naturalization services. San Diego immigrants can give us a call at 858-874-0711 with any questions they have.

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