Avoidable Murder Leads California Legislator to Introduce Repeal of Sanctuary State Law
FAIR Take | March 2022
California passed an expansive sanctuary bill, Senate Bill (SB) 54, in 2017, shielding criminal aliens from deportation and releasing them back into the community to prey on other victims. This law has had tragic consequences that were completely avoidable if California allowed cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). A horrible crime committed by an illegal alien in California has led a prominent state legislator to take the first step toward reversing this reckless decision, introducing a bill that would repeal the Golden State’s sanctuary law.
Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin) announced on March 21 that he was introducing Assembly Bill (AB) 1708. The impetus for his announcement was a March 5 murder-suicide by an illegal alien where he killed his three daughters at a Sacramento church. Assemblyman Kiley’s bill would repeal the statewide sanctuary policies imposed by SB 54. In addition, it would further ensure cooperation between state and local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities for criminal aliens with the most serious prior records or pending charges.
Kiley noted that in the Sacramento church murders, only “a few days before the murders the gunman had been arrested on charges of resisting arrest, assaulting a police officer, and driving under the influence … ICE asked to be notified about his release from jail, but this never occurred due to prohibitions under California’s Sanctuary State law.” He added, “[t]his unspeakable tragedy was avoidable.”
Finally, he stressed that the California State Sheriff’s Association had opposed SB 54 from the start and had predicted that terrible crimes would naturally occur as a consequence.
Under current state law as specified by SB 54, individual cities and counties may (although they don’t have to) honor federal immigration detainers for people in their custody if they’ve previously been convicted of any of a list of prior criminal offenses. Detainers are official requests from ICE to hold an alleged illegal alien for up to 48 hours past their release on local charges so ICE can pick them up and start the deportation process. Under AB 1708, state and local law enforcement would be required to honor a detainer for anyone with convictions for any of that list of prior crimes, or currently charged with any of them.
AB 1708 is currently assigned to the Assembly Committee on Revenue and Taxation, as it is actually technically an “author’s amendment” by Kiley to a previously unrelated tax bill he introduced in January. It has not been scheduled for a committee hearing.
No similar bill has yet been introduced in the California Senate.
Both chambers of the legislature are heavily controlled by Democrats, but Kiley appears to believe the shocking avoidable tragedy of the church murders may have led to a new bipartisan appetite in the state to repeal the sanctuary law. Democrats outnumber Republicans 56-19 in the Assembly and 31-9 in the Senate.
Should both chambers actually pass AB 1708 or something similar, Governor Gavin Newsom (D) would be likely to veto it, and the 2/3 supermajorities required to override such a veto seem difficult to imagine. No gubernatorial veto has been successfully overridden by the California legislature since 1980.