California bill protecting immigrants closer to approval

California Gov. Jerry Brown left and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon D Los Angeles

Brown has backed the bill and is expected to sign it into law, despite the Trump Administration rejection of sanctuary cities and states. The bill also prohibits police and sheriff officers from inquiring about a person's immigration status.

But the law has backers too: San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, who simply called it "a reasonable streamlining bill", and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff, who said in August, "We need to plan and prepare for accommodating diverse populations and more dense development in our existing footprint".

The bill's Democratic author, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon, said he wrote the legislation in response to President Trump's promise to step up deportations of people in the country illegally.

"It's a purposeful positioning", said political analyst Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a senior fellow at the University of Southern California.

The bill that is headed to Brown's desk allows communication with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding anyone who has committed any of the 800 crimes listed in the California Trust Law, which includes some misdemeanors and non-violent crimes.

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The compromise moved the California Police Chiefs Association's position on the bill opposed to neutral.

The legislature also passed a package of bills aimed at increasing the availability of affordable housing in the notoriously expensive state, and approved a plan for spending $1.5 billion in income from the state's cap-and-trade air quality program, which raises money by selling businesses limited rights to emit pollutants. It later cleared the Senate 27-17 and was sent to the governor.

California's three investor-owned utilities, Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric, said the bill does not protect customers from the cost of switching from fossil fuels. "We believe in the American dream, and this bill today helps some of us believe California is a safe place for immigrants".

"I know, from speaking to hundreds of victims of crimes, witnesses of crimes, that if you're a victim or a witness, it's hard to trust working with law enforcement if you think there's a chance that your immigration status might be passed along to the federal government", he said.

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