Bill to Repeal California Sanctuary State Law Defeated in Committee
FAIR Take | April 2022
California’s dangerous 2017 sanctuary state law, Senate Bill (SB) 54, will remain in place. A bill to repeal it was recently voted down in committee.
The Assembly’s Committee on Public Safety voted 5-2 along party lines against Assembly Bill (AB) 1708 on April 19. The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin), would have repealed the statewide sanctuary policies imposed by SB 54. It also would have further ensured cooperation between state and local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities to remove criminal aliens with the most serious prior records or pending charges.
After the March 5 murder-suicide by an illegal alien of his three daughters in a Sacramento church, Kiley highlighted his bill in the media hoping the tragedy might have spurred bipartisan consensus to end what he calls “the Sanctuary State nightmare.” Kiley noted that 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 that the California State Sheriff’s Association had opposed SB 54 and had predicted that terrible crimes would result from it, saying “[u]nfortunately, those predictions have amply and tragically borne out.”
Democrat committee members Mia Bonta (D-Oakland), Isaac Bryan (D-Culver City), Reginald Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) and Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) voted against AB 1708, while Republican members Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) and Kelly Seyarto (R-Murrieta) voted in support.
A similar bill could still be introduced in the California Senate, but would also likely face the prospect of defeat on party lines. Democrats outnumber Republicans 56-19 in the Assembly and 31-9 in the Senate.
It is also possible that California’s sanctuary law could be repealed using the state’s ballot initiative process. Under state law, verified signatures from 3.2% of the registered voters who voted in the last election for governor could place a referendum on the ballot for a new law to repeal SB 54, while signatures from 5.1% could make the proposal an amendment to the state constitution. Those numbers are currently 623,212 and 997,139 respectively. Ballot initiatives are frequent in California and have often been successfully used to enact policies that don’t have strong support in the legislature.