In summary

When Gov. Brown signed the closely watched ‘sanctuary state’ bill today, he set California on course to further limit how much cooperation state and local law enforcers can give to federal immigration agencies.

When Gov. Brown signed the closely watched ‘sanctuary state’ bill today, he set California on course to further limit how much cooperation state and local law enforcers can give to federal immigration agencies.

The new law is part of California’s pushback against the Trump administration’s vow to deport more people who are in the country illegally, particularly those who have been convicted of a crime. About 2.3 million undocumented immigrants live in California, and state leaders including the governor have lauded their contribution to the state’s economy and cited a new need to protect them.

“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.

The new sanctuary provisions will go into effect Jan. 1.

Brown’s approval comes after months of wrangling to find a compromise among the author, Los Angeles Democrat and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, law enforcement agencies against the bill, and the governor’s office. That breakthrough came several weeks ago when de León accepted amendments that vastly expanded from 60 to 800 the list of types criminal convictions an immigrants might have that would permit police to work with immigration officers on the case.

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Some law enforcers remained wary even with the changes.

“We are discouraged that this problematic bill has been signed into law,” said Bill Brown, president of the California State Sheriff’s Association. “We will continue to work to address the bill’s liabilities, which include restricting our communications with federal law enforcement about the release of wanted, undocumented criminals from our jails, including repeat drunk drivers, persons who assault peace officers, serial thieves, animal abusers, known gang members, and other serious offenders.”

Brown said the new law is balanced and allows local law enforcement to go after criminals without putting law-abiding undocumented families at risk.

“California’s local law enforcement cannot be commandeered and used by the Trump Administration to tear families apart, undermine our safety, and wreak havoc on our economy,” said de León after the bill was signed.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Trump, have derided the sanctuary effort in California, warning that it would hamper public safety in the state. Sessions has threatened to withhold federal funds from sanctuary jurisdictions, although a federal judge has, for now at least, blocked such retaliation. Last week the Department of Homeland Security conducted immigration raids specifically in “sanctuary” regions, including Los Angeles—saying that without the cooperation of local police, federal agents would pursue criminal immigrants more directly.

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Elizabeth Aguilera

Elizabeth Aguilera is an award-winning multimedia journalist who covers health and social services for CalMatters. She joined CalMatters in 2016 from Southern California Public Radio/KPCC 89.3 where she...