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  • California senators advanced three immigration-related bills Tuesday, including a proposal to fund legal aid for immigrants in the state who face deportation.
  • What has each member of California's congressional delegation said about President Trump's executive order on immigration? Find out your representative's position here.
  • California's congressional Democrats came out forcefully against Trump's immigration directives over the weekend, while Republican members of Congress held their fire.

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First of several immigrant protection bills clears state Senate Public Safety Committee

 (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)
(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

As national debate and protests have taken place over President Donald Trump’s executive actions on immigration and refugees, the state Senate Public Safety Committee on Tuesday passed the first of several bills aimed at protecting immigrants in California.

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 proposal, dubbed the California Values Act, also aims to protect immigrants’ personal data, requiring state agencies to review their confidentiality policies and to ensure that they are only collecting information necessary to their departments.

It moved out of committee with a 5-2 vote.

The bill seeks to strengthen immigrant protections threatened under Trump’s executive actions. In orders signed last week, the president pledged to cut federal dollars from so-called sanctuary cities, which have policies limiting the cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities.

At a committee hearing Tuesday, De León said the proposal builds on the California Trust Act , which Gov. Jerry Brown signed in October 2013. The state law prevents law enforcement agencies from detaining immigrants longer than necessary for minor crimes so that federal immigration authorities can take them into custody.

A long line of immigrant advocates, lawyers and lobbyists rose in support of the bill, saying it would continue to help law enforcement officials build trust within immigrant communities and allow more victims and witnesses to report crime.

Democratic members in the committee urged their Republican colleagues to vote for the legislation and move away from Trump's rhetoric, which they said stereotyped immigrants as criminals. They pointed to low crime rates in immigrant communities and stressed that many police chiefs do not want to enforce immigration laws.

Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), chair of the committee, said people across California were under economic stress that could be manipulated into fear.

"All of us want hardened criminals prosecuted under the law," she said. "All of us. But what we are watching now is a pitting of people against each other, a targeting of immigrants."

Opponents were not swayed. They said the bill's language was too broad and could prevent communication among police agencies at different levels of government, allowing dangerous criminals to escape prosecution.

“I’m concerned that you are basically making the state of California a de facto sanctuary state,'" Sen. Jeff Stone (R-Murrieta) told De León.

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