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California sheriffs say 'sanctuary state' bill would prevent immigration officials from going after violent offenders

County sheriffs on Monday slammed a Senate bill that would prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies from using resources for immigration enforcement, saying it would cause their departments to lose federal funding and allow violent offenders to go free.

At a press conference led by Republican lawmakers, the sheriffs said they did not want to enforce immigration laws or target hardworking families and students in the country illegally. But they argued the pending legislation would restrict collaboration between law enforcement agencies at different levels of government when going after crime suspects.

"If SB 54 passes, it will allow dangerous, violent career criminals to slip through the cracks and be released back into our communities," Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones told reporters.

Senate Bill 54 , introduced by Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), would prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies from using resources to investigate, detain, report or arrest persons for the purposes of immigration enforcement.

The so-called "sanctuary state" legislation has drawn wide support among immigrant advocates and some law enforcement officials who say the Trump administration's efforts to ramp up immigration enforcement is harming trust between police and immigrant communities.

But it has stirred fierce opposition from sheriffs who argue it would prevent them from leasing jail space to federal immigration officials, and from providing them with information on certain defendants.

On Monday, state Sen. Joel Anderson (R-San Diego), said the state should allow federal officials to look for hardened criminals in jails and prisons, not in neighborhoods.

"We are talking about rapists and child molesters," he said.

De León has countered that federal immigration officials would be able to obtain information from local and state officials through a court warrant.

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