San Diego

Bill to Turn California Into ‘Sanctuary State' Gets Pushback From Local Mayors

The bill would prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies from collaborating with federal immigration officers

A bill that would essentially turn California into a sanctuary state, is getting some pushback.

On Wednesday, the mayors of El Cajon, Coronado, Escondido, La Mesa, Poway, San Marcos, Santee and Vista spoke out against SB-54.

The bill would prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies from collaborating with federal immigration officers.

A group of local mayors fear the bill would give a free pass to criminals who are in the country illegally.

This isn’t about immigration at all. It is about criminals,” said Poway Mayor Steve Vaus. “This simply is about public safety, nothing more nothing less. it's our most important job.”

According to the bill, which was co-authored by San Diego State Senator Toni Atkins, local and state officers would be prohibited from investigating immigration violations. It would also bar them from giving addresses to federal immigration officers. The bill was recently amended. The new change would give immigration officials a 60 day notification before violent felons are released from prison, so they can deported.

“Even though some have been exempted, there are still many categories of violent felons who could be released to wreak havoc,” said Vaus.

Mayor of El Cajon Bill Wells, who organized the meeting, agreed. Wells said he also fears stopping collaboration with immigration officers, would block federal funding.

“If we don't do our job, the federal government is not going to pay us,” said Wells. “That takes a huge amount of money our budget, which means less police officers, less firefighters.”

A group of protestors attended the meeting, shouting "Shame on You." They argue the bill would not protect criminals, but instead protect immigrant communities.

“It's not that we're unsafe, it's not that rapist and murderers are going to attack us,” Linda Breen told NBC 7. “That fear is simply not rational and it's being used for political purposes, it's wrong and it's unamerican.

Supporter of the so called ‘sanctuary bill’ said it’s a way to stop President Trump’s immigration policies.

“None of us are for protecting rapists and murderers, but I don't believe this is what this is about,” said Breen. “We need to fight Trump's agenda, and his agenda as to do with hate and fear.”

Even if the bill passes, it would still have to be signed by Governor Brown. The Mayor of El Cajon said he's building a coalition called "Mayors for Safe Cities" to stop the bill from moving forward.

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