California Becomes First Sanctuary State


On October 5, California Governor Jerry Brown passed legislation limiting who state and local law enforcement agencies can hold, question, and transfer based on immigration status at the request of federal immigration authorities. Communication between California police and Federal officials about immigration status will be prohibited, and undocumented immigrants will be safer from deportation. This “sanctuary state” legislation does permit police and sheriffs to share information and transfer people to immigration authorities only if they have been convicted of any of the eight-hundred crimes listed in the California Trust Act.

According to the L.A. Times, many California residents are worried the eight-hundred crimes are too broad and include many non-violent crimes. This immigration bill will not stop Federal immigration officers from doing their job but may severely limit their effectiveness.

On Friday, Thomas Homan, the head of the Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said his agency had “no choice” but to arrest illegal immigrants in California despite the “sanctuary state” legislation. In the near future, it is safe to say there will be heated conflict between the Trump administration and California.

Trump stated, “My administration is launching a nationwide crackdown on sanctuary cities.” California is home to around 2.6 million undocumented immigrants which consists of one quarter of the U.S. undocumented population according to the Public Policy Institute of California. Therefore, Trump will not be happy with California’s brazen response to the Federal government’s immigration policies.

    According to Chattanooga Chief of Police Fred Fletcher, Chattanooga could be considered a sanctuary city. “I find Chattanooga to be a very welcoming city, so by the definition that you provided, I think that we are a very welcoming city” he said in response to News 12 reporter Emily Cassulo. Fletcher added the police department wishes to be respected by all community members regardless of their immigration status, and only use probable cause when searching for criminals, not specifically seeking out undocumented citizens. Chattanooga has the third largest Hispanic population growth in the nation according to the Times Free Press; therefore, the immigration legislation and controversy in California will no doubt reach our college’s backyard very quickly.

The Covenant community has a lot of informed responses to this legislation. Senior Annie DeLuca (‘18) said, "It's perhaps the most delicate issue our country has had to face, and also an issue that cannot be taken on a case by case basis, which makes it ten times more painful."

Senior Miranda Mason (‘18) said, “Deportation is not the solution to our issues with immigration, so I would be proud to see more states following California’s example.” Finally, Robert Moody (‘18) remarked, “I am very interested to see what will happen in California. I think this will provide an opportunity for a lot of myths about the effects of undocumented immigrants to be empirically tested, and, hopefully, those results will be able to inform other state and national policies.”