10 Jan California becomes a sanctuary state
California has become the first state in the nation to be a “sanctuary state.” This means California will not cooperate fully with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), in apprehending illegal aliens or in connection with enforcing immigration laws.
However, this does NOT mean people who are out of status in California are immune from being apprehended or removed from the U.S. ICE can still go after people and enforce immigration laws in California.
Some of the highlights of the sanctuary state law include:
- Police can no longer ask people about their immigration status or investigate, interrogate, detain, detect, or arrest people for immigration enforcement purposes.
- Prevents immigration enforcement “to the fullest extent possible” at public schools, public libraries, hospitals, and county court houses.
- Unless the alien has been convicted of certain crimes, such as serious or violent felonies, assault, battery, abuse, rape, etc. police would not cooperate to immigration authorities.
- Police will also be prevented from detaining a crime victim or a witness to a crime solely because they are suspected to be out of status.
- Local authorities will not provide information to the ICE regarding a person’s release date from prison, unless that person had been convicted of certain serious crimes.
- Local authorities will, otherwise, not be “performing the functions of an immigration officer.”
- State jail officials cannot release out of status individuals to immigration authorities “unless authorized by a judicial warrant.”
Once again, this does not mean that people living in California somehow cannot be apprehended, detained, or removed from the U.S. It only means California will generally not assist ICE in immigration enforcement actions.
However, the best solution for people who are out of status is to find ways to legalize their status. There may be forms of relief or benefits available to a person. That is why I would recommend you consult with an immigration attorney, who can evaluate your situation, whether you live in California, or any other state. Remember, even if you live in a sanctuary city or state, ICE will still enforce immigration laws.
Michael J. Gurfinkel has been an attorney for over 35 years and is licensed, and an active member of the State Bars of California and New York. All immigration services are provided by, or under the supervision of, an active member of the State Bar of California. Each case is different and results may depend on the facts of the particular case. The information and opinions contained herein (including testimonials, “Success Stories”, endorsements and re-enactments) are of a general nature, and are not intended to apply to any particular case, and do not constitute a prediction, warranty, guarantee or legal advice regarding the outcome of your legal matter. No attorney-client relationship is, or shall be, established with any reader.
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