California could soon become sanctuary state, Senate scheduled to give final approval

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California is inching closer to becoming a sanctuary state. (KFSN)

California is inching closer to becoming a sanctuary state. The bill is meant to protect undocumented immigrants in California from federal immigration authorities like ICE--making places like schools and medical clinics 'safe zones.'

"We have us born children that are whose opportunity for education is being affected by the fact parents are terrified to leave their home to even pick them up or take them to school," said Isabel Machado, immigration attorney.

The potential new law is also meant to keep immigrants safe if they report a crime, but Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims says they do not arrest victims of crimes, to begin with. She says the department has already agreed not to conduct immigration enforcement, and her concern lies within the jails.

"If you've been a victim of a crime please report it-- we do not arrest victims of crimes, in fact, I can help you be here legally with a visa," said Mims.

Sheriff Mims says if California does become a sanctuary state, it will limit law enforcement's contact with immigration authorities. She says they'll still be able to work with ICE on high-level crime cases--but they'll no longer be able to contact authorities about all offenses made by undocumented immigrants.

"The difficulty with this means there might be gang members, multiple misdemeanors-- such as stealing cars or burglaries, which means people are going to get out of jail and continue to commit crimes," said Mims.

The new law could mean a less fearful environment for immigrants.

"If we relied on our sheriffs and jailers to dictate how we create a just and fair society for all of our community we would be still fighting for the civil rights act. We are here to create a just society," said Ash Kalra, Assembly Member.

But the sheriff worries this will turn ICE's attention away from the jails and could cause even more fear.

"The unintended consequence of this bill-- my fear is that ice will continue to do their jobs however rather than doing it in our community jail, they'll be out in our communities doing immigration sweeps," said Mims.
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