A bill dubbed the "anti-Arizona law" by its supporters was passed by the California Senate Thursday evening, offering illegal immigrants protection from harsher federal immigration enforcement efforts, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The legislation, called "The California TRUST (Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools) Act," was passed 21 to 13 by the Democrat-led Senate, and positions California at the opposite end of anti-immigrant legislation in states like Arizona, Reuters reported.
"Arizona and its governor may view all immigrants as criminals," Chris Newman, legal director for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, told the Times. "But in California we have a different view."
The law makes it illegal for state police to refer arrested immigrants for deportation, unless the person in question has been previously convicted of a violent or serious felony, the San Jose Mercury News reported.
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The bill will head to the state's Assembly in August, where it is expected to pass, and then on to Governor Jerry Brown for signature into law, according to the Mercury News. The bill already passed the Democrat-controlled state Assembly in a 47 to 26 vote in May, Reuters reported, and has the support of around 100 immigrant rights groups, police chiefs and mayors.
If it becomes law, the Trust Act would be the latest in a series of California's legislative efforts to support the state's 2.55 million illegal immigrants, according to the L.A. Times.
California has the largest immigrant population of any US state, Reuters reported.
However, the measure may put Governor Brown in a tight spot: he recently signed an agreement with the Obama administration which enabled federal immigration agents to track and detain any deportable immigrant arrested by local police in the state through Secure Communities, a fingerprints-sharing program that has been in action since 2009, the Mercury News reported.
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75,000 Californians have been deported under the Secure Communities program since its implementation, the Times reported.
Last month, the Supreme Court upheld what is arguably the most controversial aspect of Arizona's immigration law, which requires police offices to check the immigration status of everyone they stop, even for minor offenses, Reuters reported.
"[This] vote signals to the nation that California cannot afford to be another Arizona," Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, a Democrat who sponsored the measure, said in a statement, according to Reuters.
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