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SB 54: California Values Act

January 30, 2018

California had about 2.4 million unauthorized foreigners in 2015, down from a peak 2.7 million in 2007 and up from 1.5 million in 1990. Unauthorized foreigners have been spreading out to other states, and California's share has been falling. California had 21 percent of the 11.1 million unauthorized foreigners the US in 2015, down from 43 percent of 3.5 million in 1990.

The California Values Act (SB 54), which went into effect January 1, 2018, restricts state and local police from cooperating with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency unless the person in question has been convicted of one of more than 800 crimes listed in the California Trust Act (AB 4).

SB 54 prohibits local jails from holding prisoners scheduled for release for ICE, but allows ICE agents to continue to interview prisoners in state and county jails to determine if they are deportable. SB 54 requires public schools, public libraries and courthouses to develop policies that make them immigration &qout;safe zones.&qout;

The California Sheriffs Association opposed SB 54, echoing ICE in predicting that restricting the access of ICE agents to state and local prisons and jails would force ICE agents to make arrests in communities, increasing the potential for violence and allowing more &qout;innocent foreigners&qout; to be encountered and arrested. ICE Acting Director Tom Homan said that SB 54 would &qout;endanger public safety and hinder ICE from performing its federally mandated mission.&qout;

About half of the foreigners deported from the interior of the US are removed as they exit state prisons and local jails after arrests and convictions. The California Trust Act (AB 4) since 2014 has prohibited local jails from honoring ICE detainers or requests to hold unauthorized foreigners who committed minor crimes, but ICE agents have been visiting prisons and jails so they know who is deportable on release. Texas and many other states are considering or enacting laws that require their state and local police to cooperate with ICE.

California has 130,000 inmates, and housing them costs an average $75,600 a year, more than tuition and housing for a Harvard student. California's cost per prisoner has doubled since 2005, reflecting rising salaries and benefits for guards. The California corrections department, with a budget of $11.4 billion in 2017, has one employee for every two inmates.

SB 54. California Values Act. Effective January 1, 2018.

AB 4. California Trust Act. Effective January 1, 2014.

Unauthorized Foreigners in California: 1990-2015