Senate Public Safety Committee Supports Providing Sanctuary to Immigrants Who are Victims or Witnesses of Crimes

Thursday, June 15, 2017

(Sacramento) Today, Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer, Sr. (D-Los Angeles) presented AB 493 in the Senate Public Safety Committee and received unanimous votes to prohibit law enforcement from detaining a crime victim or witness solely for an actual or suspected immigration violation. 

“We need to remove the fear and uncertainty that is rampant in our immigrant communities and provide protection to undocumented immigrants when they seek to cooperate with law enforcement on any crime.” said Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer, who chairs the Assembly Public Safety Committee and is the author of AB 493.  “By preventing witnesses and victims of crimes from being detained and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), it will help law enforcement with their investigations and will promote social responsibility and improve police community relationships.”

Lobbyists, who represent several law enforcement groups, stated that law enforcement, defense attorneys and ACLU are supportive of this bill because contrary to popular shows like Law & Order Special Victims Unit, law enforcement needs the public assistance to help solve crimes and AB 493 will eliminate some of the fears that undocumented immigrants have about working with law enforcement.  

Jonathan Feldman of the California Police Chiefs Association said, “We rely on community-trust, rely on partnerships, and unfortunately in the climate that we are in now with fear among the immigrant community, it has taken a hit. This bill will help us continue to help build those relationships, and ensure their trust in us so they can come forward and work with us. We’re there to help; we’re there to respond.”

AB 493 now moves to the Senate Floor and is one step closer to providing sanctuary to undocumented immigrants, who would like to do the right thing and assist law enforcement in solving a crime and making California safer for everyone.