Lawmakers Return to Sacramento, Vow to Fight Trump on Immigration Crackdown

California Senate Leader Kevin de León vowed to protect immigrants and others fearful of President-elect Donald Trump. (Max Whittaker/KQED)

Democratic lawmakers returning to Sacramento for a new legislative session Monday arrived ready to fight for immigrant rights, wasting no time in positioning California as a key adversary to President-elect Donald Trump's agenda.

Within hours of reconvening and welcoming new members, both the Assembly and Senate approved identical resolutions -- over the objections of minority Republicans -- that called on Trump not to pursue a "mass deportation strategy."

But they don't seem to be counting on their appeal to be embraced by the incoming Republican administration: Democrats in Sacramento also announced legislation Monday aimed at helping undocumented immigrants fight deportation attempts.

In remarks after being re-elected Assembly speaker, Anthony Rendon, D-Los Angeles, called for defiance "whenever justice, fairness and righteousness require."

“Californians may accept the lawfulness of the November election, but millions of us do not accept the sentiment delivered by this election,” Rendon said. “It is up to us to pass policies that would firewall Californians -- and what we believe -- from the cynical, shortsighted and reactionary agenda that is rising in the wake of the election.”

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Democrats don't want their stand to be entirely rhetorical. Newly introduced SB 6 by Sen. Ben Hueso of San Diego would create a state program to fund nonprofits that defend immigrants; it would rely on state resources as well as private donations. And AB 3 by Oakland Assemblyman Rob Bonta would create regional centers to train public and private defense attorneys on immigration law and the potential consequences of criminal convictions for undocumented immigrants.

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, said state leaders will stand strongly against any attempts to return to mass deportation programs of the 1950s.

“It is neither humane nor wise to ignore the many contributions of this community to our economy and culture,” de León said. “California celebrates diversity. We don’t deport it.”

Gov. Jerry Brown also vowed to protect California's interests, though he took a more cautious approach to Trump.

"I think in that area between the state and the federal, you’ll just have to watch to see what moves the federal government makes and what the laws of the country and the state will make possible for us," he said.

Brown told reporters he doesn’t have any plans at the moment to meet with Trump.

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