California Plans To Protect Millions Of Immigrants From Trump

The Democrat-dominated state is announcing a set of measures to protect millions of undocumented people who live there

People marching during an immigrants rights rally in Los Angeles — REUTERS
Dec 05, 2016 at 2:16 PM ET

Leading Democratic lawmakers in California are preparing for battle against President-elect Donald Trump’s proposed immigration crackdown with a sweeping set of bills intended to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation.

The measures, to be introduced Monday, would establish a public fund to provide free legal services for any immigrant facing deportation, create new statewide resources to train public defenders on immigration law, and limit how local law enforcement works with federal immigration officials, the New York Times reported. The proposals are all expected to pass, thanks to a Democratic supermajority in both chambers of the state capitol, and will likely be signed into law by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown.

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The push by lawmakers will further California’s emergence as a leading bulwark against the policies on immigration taken by Trump, who said he intends to immediately deport millions of undocumented people from the United States. Los Angeles, San Francisco, and other major cities in the state have already vowed to serve as so-called sanctuaries for those facing deportation. Meanwhile, California’s public university system, the largest in the nation, said last week that it will not aid federal agents in immigration actions against students.

Roughly 2.6 million undocumented immigrants, or nearly a quarter of the estimated 11 million living in the U.S., reside in California, according to data compiled by the Center for Migration Studies, a non-partisan think tank. The state already offers driver’s licenses and in-state college tuition rates for undocumented immigrants, and is currently pressuring the Obama administration to allow them to purchase health insurance on the state’s public exchange.

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The mounting opposition sets the stage for what could be a grueling political and legal battle between Trump’s incoming administration and the country’s wealthiest and most populous state. By aggressively resisting the deportation of undocumented immigrants, California, which is now 40 percent Latino, could also undermine one of the major campaign issues that fueled the president-elect’s run for the White House.

“Throughout the presidential campaign and since, the president-elect has made many troubling statements that run counter to the principles that define California today,” said Kevin de León, the Senate president pro tempore, who is backing the package. “There is no greater policy area than immigration where the comments run headlong to the values we share as Californians.”