Sacramento Report: San Diego County Makes a 180 on Immigration Bills

Government

Sacramento Report: San Diego County Makes a 180 on Immigration Bills

The same body that backed the Trump administration’s effort to overturn the California Values Act now supports an effort to further separate ICE from local prisons.

Nora Vargas
County Supervisor Nora Vargas, who won election in 2020, is part of a new Democratic majority on the Board of Supervisors. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

In yet another sign that the San Diego County Board of Supervisors has shifted to the left, the county now supports a bill that would stop transfers to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for anyone eligible for release from California state prisons or local jails.

Just a few years ago, the board supported the Trump administration in its lawsuit against the California Values Act, which also tried to limit interactions between local law enforcement and immigration enforcement.

AB 937, written by Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo, was spurred by high-profile transfers, like of an immigrant incarcerated firefighter and a domestic violence survivor, who completed their state prison sentences only to be transferred into ICE custody. In addition to stopping such transfers, the bill would prohibit state or local agencies or courts from using a person’s immigration status as a reason to deny probation or participation in any diversion, rehabilitation, mental health program or placement in a credit-earning program.

“This bill would ensure that undocumented immigrants are treated equally, get the services and resources they need and deserve, and would keep undocumented immigrant families and communities together,” wrote the county’s director of the Office of Strategy and Intergovernmental Affairs in a memo describing the county’s support of the legislation.

The bill will be heard by the Assembly’s Judiciary Committee Tuesday.

Police Decertification Bill Moves Forward

SB 2, a measure written by Sen. Steven Bradford and Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins that would create a process to decertify police officers who commit serious misconduct, passed the Senate Public Safety this week.

The bill would empower the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training to investigate and possibly decertify officers, allow the agency to audit law enforcement agencies and would create a new police standards advisory board made up mostly of non-officers.

Voice of San Diego and other news outlets across the state taking part in an unprecedented joint investigation found in 2019 that hundreds of police officers in California have themselves been convicted of crimes and are sometimes allowed to continue working and carrying weapons. In San Diego County alone, dozens of current and former officers have been convicted. California is one of only a handful of states that does not automatically decertify officers who commit serious misconduct.

After months of sustained and intense racial justice protests last year, the California Legislature shocked the nation by failing in the last few minutes of the legislative session to pass an officer decertification bill. Democratic lawmakers have singled out the effort as one of their top priorities.

“The current system of accountability is insufficient. Communities know who the bad officers are that are in their local departments because many of them are assigned to Black and Brown communities, or communities of low-income,” Bradford said at the hearing this week. “Yet it’s so rare that these officers are held accountable in court or held accountable by their own department.”

Alan Kuboyama, president of the Alameda Police Officers Union, disagreed, and took issue with the creation of the new advisory panel.

“SB 2 is not the right approach. SB 2 creates a potentially biased panel to oversee the process of revoking an officer’s license to practice law enforcement, ignoring our country’s tradition of due process and subjecting officers to a biased review of their actions where guilt is assumed and the deck is stacked against them,” he said.

More Bill Stops and Starts

  • San Diego Sen. Ben Hueso helped kill a sweeping bill to ban fracking in California. “State Sen. Susan Eggman (D-Stockton) was the only Democrat to vote against the legislation, but it failed largely because two other Democrats, state Sens. Bob Hertzberg of Van Nuys and Ben Hueso of San Diego, did not cast votes,” the Los Angeles Times noted.
  • Back in December, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez had a pretty grim assessment of her bill to address learning losses during the pandemic that includes allowing students to retake their grade level: “Nobody wants me to do this bill,” she told VOSD. Seems like she was wrong: AB 104 passed the full state Assembly this week on a 77-0 vote.
  • A measure by Sen. Brian Jones to increase penalties for porch package thefts passed the Senate Public Safety Committee. “Since the COVID-19 crisis began, home delivery of packages has dramatically increased across the nation. Seniors and disabled Californians in particular rely on package delivery for fundamental items such as medication and food,” Jones said in a statement. “Unfortunately, package theft has become its own epidemic, with 30 percent of package thefts nationwide occurring here in California. Greater punishments and deterrents against ‘porch piracy’ are needed. Senate Bill 358 will allow judges the option to treat theft of packages delivered by private carriers just like mail delivered by the U.S. Postal Service.”

Golden State News

Sofia Mejias Pascoe contributed to this report.

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