In a press conference held on Monday, June 19, Chief Beck said that the bill was not ‘soft on crime’, but displayed ‘courage.’ He said that the bill protects trust between his officers and the neighborhoods that they police.
The bill, known as Senate Bill 54 or the sanctuary state bill, would not allow state and local law enforcement agencies, including school police and security, from using any available resources to ‘investigate, detain, report, or arrest people for immigration violations.’
Police chiefs and sheriffs throughout the state have expressed concern that the bill could ‘weaken’ their ability to ‘detain dangerous or repeat criminals.’
Former Attorney General Eric Holder and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon were with Chief Beck at the press conference. Holder has been temporarily hired by the State and Assembly as an adviser on strategy against President Trump’s administration.
He said that the bill was about “doing the right thing”, and said that it was “…something that needed to be done nationwide.” Holder has already sent a letter about the bill to current Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In the letter, Holder said that the bill was constitutional, and should take precedence over federal law. It is not known if AG Sessions has responded.
De Leon amended the bill to alleviate one of Chief Beck’s concerns, and the amendment now allows local and state law enforcement officers to participate in task forces, working beside federal officers, so long as the operation is not targeted for immigration enforcement.
President Trump and AG Sessions have promised to cut federal funding to so-called sanctuary cities and states. The bill cleared its first hearing in the state Assembly.
At that hearing, Cory Salzillo, legislative director for the California State Sheriffs’ Association, argued against it. He said if federal immigration officers were not allowed to interrogate illegal immigrants in jail, then they would be forced to go into the communities, which could result in more arrests for illegal immigrants.