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New amendments to 'sanctuary state' bill will allow police and sheriffs to contact ICE about violent felons

State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

California Senate leader Kevin de León has amended his “sanctuary state” bill to provide greater flexibility for law enforcement to notify and work with federal immigration officials on cases involving serious and violent felons.

The move, amid national debate over “sanctuary city” policies, comes days after a rowdy welcome in Sacramento for the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement at a forum meant to address the role of police officers and sheriff’s deputies in immigration enforcement.  

Senate Bill 54 is at the center of a legislative package that Democratic lawmakers say is meant to extend protections for immigrants under the expanded deportation priorities of the Trump administration. It would prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies — including school police and security — from using resources to investigate, detain, report or arrest people for immigration enforcement.

New amendments to the bill added Thursday would allow sheriff’s deputies to report the release dates of serious and violent felons to ICE. The changes also clarified the language of the bill to allow state and local law enforcement agencies to participate in task forces, even when immigration enforcement becomes an element of the investigation.

And under the amended bill, law enforcement officers would be able to notify ICE if they come into contact with a person who previously has been deported and has a violent felony record.

De León previously had kept from making distinctions for immigrants charged or convicted of felonies, urging Republican lawmakers to move away from Trump's rhetoric, which he said stereotyped immigrants as criminals. 

But tensions over the bill have flared as some sheriff’s officials across the state have denounced it, and as local law enforcement officials say its provisions could hinder their participation in task forces involving federal immigration agencies.

11:30 a.m.: This article was updated to correct the time the amendments were published. They were printed early Thursday.

This article was originally published at 8:18 a.m.

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