The advancement of California’s sanctuary state bill (SB 54), meant to strengthen protection for immigrants in the state, brought added attention to Friday’s 19th annual Caesar E. Chavez Community Breakfast downtown.
Attorney General Xavier Becerra gave a speech at the breakfast, mostly focusing on his upbringing as the child of immigrants. Afterward, Becerra spoke exclusively with NBC 7 about immigration law in California if it were to become a sanctuary state.
“Federal immigration authorities cannot require our local police and sheriff to go out into communities and conduct immigration activities,” Becerra said.
Becerra sited the TRUST Act (AB 4), a 2014 bill aimed at limiting immigration hold requests in local detention centers.
“The state has a right to say that we want to provide for the public safety of our people, and we see how sometimes it can be disruptive if the federal government has a different way of doing its operations,” he added.
A contentious point within the immigration debate centers on undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes. Becerra said that some violent offenders would be subject to arrest by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
“If the person has committed a crime like rape or murder, then that person would be subject to ICE detention if held by the local law enforcement authorities,” Becerra said. “There would be information provided to ICE, who would then be able to access that person.”
Earlier this week, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions encouraged sanctuary cities to change their guard or face consequences.
“Failure to deport aliens who are convicted of criminal offenses puts whole communities at risk. Especially immigrant communities in the very “sanctuary” jurisdictions that seek to protect the perpetrators,” said Sessions at a White House news conference.
Also in attendance at the breakfast was Paul R. Chavez, the grandson of Caesar E. Chavez and President of the Chavez Legal Center, and Emilio Huerta, son of Dolores Huerta and Social Justice Activist.