Sacramento, CA- While many states are passing tougher laws to crack down in illegal immigration, one border state, California, introduced what is being described as the ‘anti-Arizona’ immigration law.
California has the country’s largest immigrant population, mostly Latino, but instead of taking a route to make it more hostile to illegal immigrants, like its more conservative neighbor Arizona, lawmakers want to make the state more immigrant friendly.
A law making its way through the California legislature would block law enforcement from referring a detainee to ICE for deportation unless they have been convicted of a violent or serious crime.
The bill’s sponsor, California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, said, “California cannot afford to become another Arizona.”
Not only is the law a counter to Arizona’s law, but it is also a pushback against Secure Communities, a federal program which is responsible for deporting 70,000 immigrants from California.
Secure Communities require that local law enforcement agencies enter the fingerprints of suspected illegal immigrants in a federal database to determine their legal status. ICE has stated that they prioritize deportations on the basis of an immigrant’s criminal records. Although an immigration attorney can help stop deportation for people, who have no criminal record, Ammiano stated that 70 percent of those deported from the state have no criminal convictions or have minor charges.
Ammiano also stated that Secure Communities places a burden on local governments and employers, who must confirm an potential employee's legal status. The program also discourages immigrants from cooperating with police in criminal investigations, jeopardizing a community’s safety.
Currently, states participate in Secure Communities on a voluntary basis, but it will eventually become a requirement. Undocumented residents looking to obtain employment may not be able to in the future unless they have an immigration lawyer obtain a temporary work visa or other legal documents.
For immigrants, entering the country without authorization is much easier than going through the legal process, which is complex and takes a long time. An immigration attorney will make the process of getting the necessary visa much easier, allowing the immigrant to live without fear of deportation.