Former U.S. Attorney General Holder Sends Legal Opinion to A.G. Sessions Regarding Policing Bill
LOS ANGELES – The California Values Act, SB 54, by California Senate Leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) picked up important law enforcement endorsements this week from Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck and Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart. Senate Leader de León also released a legal opinion by the former Attorney General of the United States Eric Holder outlining how the measure fully complies with federal laws and the U.S. Constitution.
SB 54 will prohibit state and local law enforcement officials from enforcing federal immigration law.
In a letter sent Monday June 19th to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder explains how California has the constitutional power to “prioritize its limited resources in areas of state concern. Senate Bill 54 represents California’s constitutional exercise of that sovereign authority.”
“SB 54 will protect local police against a federal overreach that would have forced them to enforce immigration laws instead of carrying out the everyday duties that keep our communities safe,” said Senate Leader de León. “It will ensure that local law enforcement dollars, personnel and other resources will not be squandered to tear families apart and deport otherwise law-abiding mothers, fathers, and their children.”
Chief Beck said the Los Angeles Police Department is “committed to fair constitutional policing with an emphasis on relationship building.”
“Our officers enforce criminal violations of state and local law and we are not responsible for the enforcement of immigration status violations,” the Chief added. “This Act allows the LAPD to fulfill its mission to keep the community safe, while still maintaining the Department’s ability to continue cultivating the trust of our residents.”
Holder, who served under President Obama and whose legal services have been retained by the California State Senate, also implored Sessions not force the “dedicated men and women” at the Department of Justice to “defend the indefensible – the President’s inhumane and unjust Executive Orders.”
“They serve the citizens of the United States and pursue justice above all else,” Holder wrote. “They swear an oath to uphold the Constitution; they do not pledge loyalty to any one man, nor any one President.”
Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart who has also endorsed SB 54 said “public safety is not enhanced when local law enforcement officers enforce immigration laws or act in a manner that causes suspicion within the diverse communities we service. SB 54 provides a clear delineation between local law enforcement and the federal government and will strengthen trust with all of the communities we are sworn to protect and serve.”
“People who have built their lives here should not have to live in constant fear of being separated from their families and communities,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “SB 54 will protect Californians and send a strong message that we stand with the immigrant community. We’re grateful for Senate Leader de León’s outstanding leadership on this legislation.”
Also joining the press conference on Monday was Sacramento Police Captain James Beezley. Since 1987, Sacramento has prohibited its police officers from asking about immigration status.
“Sacramento is no different from many cities in California,” Captain Beezley said. “We face budget challenges to provide the services that our residents expect and to ensure fiscal stability for the city in future years. We do not have the resources to spare when it comes to enforcing immigration laws.”
During the press conference, Senator de León also harshly criticized recent comments by Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Robert Homan as “heartless and bigoted.”
Homan threatened all undocumented residents, saying: “If you are in this country illegally, and you committed a crime by entering this country, you should be uncomfortable, you should look over your shoulder and you need to be worried.”
“Director Homan’s comments underscore the need to pass SB 54,” Senator de León said. “We will protect those who have helped make California the sixth largest economy in the world.”