California’s Newsom vetoes bill blocking ICE referrals for newly-released felons

Newsom declined to sign the bill due to “public safety risks.”

Published: September 28, 2023 11:22pm

(The Center Square) -

California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill that would have prevented the state's prison system from sending some non-citizen felons who have served their sentences in state prisons to U.S. Immigrations and Customs and Enforcement for possible deportation, signaling that the California legislature may be to the left of the governor on some public safety issues.

AB 1306, by Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo, D–Los Angeles, would have required the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to stop releasing to ICE people illegally in the country who have served their prison terms and were granted release on youth offender, elderly, and medical parole releases. Existing law requires CDCR [California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation] to cooperate with federal law enforcement for deportation of illegal immigrants incarcerated in state prison.

“It was never the intent of the Legislature to create a dual system of justice that treats immigrants differently and as second-class individuals,” Carrillo said in a statement celebrating the bill’s passage in the State Legislature. “We now look to the Governor in putting a stop to this inhumane practice, which results in the indefinite incarceration of justice-impacted individuals when transferred to immigration detention centers to serve an additional sentence that is never handed down by a criminal court or a judge.”

Newsom declined to sign the bill due to “public safety risks.”

“The bill would prevent information sharing and coordination upon a person's release from CDCR custody for a significant number of people and, as a result, would impede CDCR's interaction with a federal law enforcement agency charged with assessing public safety risks,” Newsom said in a public letter explaining his veto. “I believe current law strikes the right balance on limiting interaction to support community trust and cooperation between law enforcement and local communities.”

Immigration advocates were quick to condemn the governor’s actions. Laura Hernandez, executive director of Freedom for Immigrants, suggested the governor’s move was part of his greater ambitions for the national stage more than a realistic appraisal of the consequences of the state's policies.

“In recent months, Governor Newsom has appeared to be busy elevating his own profile amid a national media blitz. Perhaps the Governor should be spending more time in his home state, meeting with Californians and learning about the issues that impact their lives,” Hernandez said in a statement. “The Governor declined to meet with me and other immigrants rights and civil rights leaders who have actually lived through the unjust double punishment he’s so recklessly chosen to uphold.”

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