California immigrant advocates are making a final push to persuade state lawmakers to pass a bill that would end the practice of transferring noncitizens to immigration custody when they’re released from jail or prison — legislation that would go further than California's existing so-called “sanctuary state” law.
The bill, known as the VISION Act, overwhelmingly passed the state Assembly last year but fell short of the 21 votes needed for Senate passage, so it carried over as a “two-year bill.” Now it’s awaiting a floor vote in the state Senate before the legislative session concludes at the end of August.
The bill’s backers are looking for support from three more senators, and they’ve been sending letters and holding rallies in the districts of several Democrats still on the fence. If the session ends without a vote, the bill will die.
Late Tuesday, the authors made amendments to AB 937 that they hope will address concerns from Democratic senators who pulled back their support last year over opposition from law enforcement groups. One change would allow the state parole board to notify ICE if an immigrant who was released on parole is later convicted of a serious new offense.
At a recent press conference, Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo, the bill’s author, emphasized that it would still require incarcerated immigrants to serve their sentences. But under the VISION Act, state and local officials would no longer hand them over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement upon release, unless served with a warrant issued by a judge. State and local officials would also stop tracking the birthplace of offenders in their criminal records systems.