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California sheriffs and Gov. Jerry Brown in talks over possible changes to ‘sanctuary state’ legislation

21 Aug

Members of the California State Sheriffs Assn. say they have been in discussions with Gov. Jerry Brown in hopes of amending a state Senate bill that seeks to keep local and state law enforcement agencies from enforcing federal immigration laws.

On a Tuesday conference call, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown, president of the sheriffs association, said his organization wants to ensure that the legislation does not prevent local law enforcement officers from notifying federal immigration agents about the release of dangerous people from their jails.

In its current form, the bill “will provide sanctuary to criminals and endangers the public,” Brown said. “Many, many serious and violent criminals… would return to our communities and would prey on the immigrant community.”

Senate Bill 54, introduced by Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), would prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies from using resources to investigate, detain, report or arrest persons for the purposes of immigration enforcement.

De León has tried to address concerns from Republican lawmakers and sheriffs over the release of violent felons. The bill now allows officers to pass along information to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement about inmates who have previously been deported for a violent felony, or are serving time on a misdemeanor or felony and have a prior serious or violent felony conviction.

Some law enforcement agencies, such as the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, already make release dates publicly available on their websites.

But on Tuesday the sheriff’s group said not all agencies release that information. The bill’s exceptions for violent and serious felons remain too narrowly defined, they said, and would keep federal officers from picking up criminals at county jails, forcing them into neighborhoods where they could also arrest other immigrant bystanders.

Their proposed amendments would eliminate most of the provisions preventing communication between federal immigration agents and local and state officers about inmates or suspects who are detained or arrested.

The remarks come just days after Brown expressed reservations about the high-profile legislation during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” The governor said he was in discussions with De León about changes to the bill, but it was unclear what those changes will be.