"Sanctuary state" law could cost Valley police millions

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California legislators are a step closer to a showdown with the Trump administration over immigration enforcement. (KFSN)

California legislators are a step closer to a showdown with the Trump administration over immigration enforcement.

The state senate passed a bill Monday to limit cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration agents. It's designed to ease the minds of millions of undocumented immigrants who've committed no other crimes, but police say it could put everyone in more danger.

Inside the Fresno County jail, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents check on inmates most every day, looking for criminals who don't belong in the United States.

Sheriff Margaret Mims says it's efficient and may actually save the immigrant community some stress.

"Right now, I allow ICE into the jail to do their work," the sheriff said. "If I couldn't do that, they would go out into the community to do their work and do sweeps."

But activists and democrats in the state legislature cite several studies showing undocumented immigrants are not committing a disproportionate share of crimes.

They say undocumented immigrants are a major economic boost to this state, but they're less likely to report crimes or be witnesses if they fear deportation when they contact police.

"We will cooperate with our friends at the federal level with serious and violent felons," said St. Sen. Kevin De Leon. "But we won't cooperate or lift a finger or spend a single cent when we're talking about separating children from their mothers and mothers from their children. That's not who we are as a great state."

The proposed law would essentially make California a sanctuary state and put it on a collision course with the Trump administration. Attorney general Jeff Sessions threatened to withhold $4.1 billion in federal funding for sanctuary cities.

Sheriff Mims says that'd cost her office more than $500,000 a year.

Fresno police chief Jerry Dyer says it's more than $2 million a year for his. He says his officers already avoided asking about immigration status as part of a balancing act now put at risk by politicians.

"We don't want to be involved in the politics of the immigration discussion," the chief said. "We just want to keep people safe."

The bill is now in the hands of the state assembly, where it could still be changed before it goes through. But even if it passes, the law wouldn't take effect until 2018 and lawsuits could hold it up even longer.

Related Topics:
politicssanctuary citiescaliforniacentral valleyPresident Donald Trump
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