With California being a “sanctuary state” where law enforcement officers are prohibited from assisting in federal immigration enforcement, it came as a surprise when a bill prohibiting state prisons from allowing federal immigration arrests was vetoed.
California Governor Gavin Newsom returned the bill without his signature on Saturday, October 12 — a day after he signed into law, legislation that would close all privately owned and operated prisons as well as private immigration detention facilities by 2028.
“I am concerned that provisions in this bill would negatively impact prison operations and could hinder and delay needed transfers between facilities for myriad situation-specific reasons such as a medical care and court obligations,” reasoned Newsom in his veto message.
California law currently allows the transferring of inmates for court-related or medical purposes.
The bill, AB 1282, would have put statutory restrictions on California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) centers from giving federal immigration agents — contracted with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement — entrance into CDCR facilities to take inmates about to be released and transfer them to immigration detention.
It also would have banned state and local agencies from keeping immigrants in custody for a period longer than their release date to allow federal agents in deportation and other immigration enforcement processes.
Authored by Assemblyman Ash Kalra, D-San Jose, the bill was upheld in a U.S. appeals court after the Trump administration sued to have it overturned on the grounds that it went against federal immigration policy.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice, a sponsor of the bill, was among those that expressed disappointment.
Attorney Angela Chan, Advancing Justice’s policy director, told the San Francisco Chronicle that contrary to Newsom’s reasons, AB 1282 would not have affected already allowable transfers.
She said the bill “came out of the blue” in that no amendments were requested, nor were there any objections while the bill was pending.
Proponents of the bill have also stressed that while federal law already prohibits private security guards from serving immigration arrests in California prisons without warrants, the arrests still happen.
In a statement released Wednesday, Kalra said that the bill would have assured that California “complies with federal law by prohibiting private security guards from masquerading as federal immigration officers in California prisons.”
“We cannot continue to allow our state to be intimidated by an administration whose immigration policy is based in unlawful and hateful actions,” said Kalra.
G4S Global Solutions is one principal immigration contractor that has conducted warrantless immigration arrests and would have been affected by the bill. The company is responsible for approximately one-third of immigration arrests.
A lawsuit was filed against G4S back in May for the “brutal and inhumane” treatment of four immigrant women in 2017 who were being transported in to Bakersfield from the Bay Area.
According to the suit, G4S employees ignored the women who were shackled in a windowless van in broiling temperatures, without food, water, medication, or access to a restroom. The trip lasted more than 24 hours. (Rae Ann Varona/AJPress)