Dubbed the Trust Act, Assembly Bill 1081 would limit local law enforcements' compliance with federal policy requiring them to check the immigration status of people taken into custody.
Under AB 1081:
- Low level offenders would no longer be detained on immigration holds.
- Only people convicted of serious felonies would be referred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
AB 1081 is a first-in-the-nation measure. Approved by the state Senate Thursday, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, who wrote the bill, says California can't afford to be another Arizona.
"It's been very unfair and the bill basically seeks to reestablish trust that people have had previously with police force. And they would also like reform," he said in a phone interview.
The current mandatory immigration checks, under the Secure Communities program, have led to the deportation of thousands of people with no criminal records. Opponents say that left many in immigrant communities afraid to report crimes or cooperate with investigations.
Ammiano calls the current rules a waste of time and money.
The California State Sheriffs Association opposes the legislation, saying it puts local law enforcement squarely between state law and federal policy.
"The sheriff believes that secure communities is an effective tool in protecting the communities we are charged to serve," said Steve Whitmore of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
Final Assembly approval is expected in August, which would send the measure to Gov. Jerry Brown. He has not said publicly if he will sign the legislation.