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DA says sanctuary bill would make matters worse

By From page A1 | July 19, 2017

El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson opposes a bill that would make California a sanctuary state.

Adding his voice to those opposed to Senate Bill 54, El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson recently testified against the proposed legislation before the State Assembly Judiciary Committee.

The bill, which has already passed the State Senate, would make California a sanctuary state for illegal immigrants.

This is one of many times Pierson has provided input on the bill; he previously sent a lengthy analysis on the constitutionality of the bill to the state attorney general.

In particular he noted how the proposed legislation conflicts with federal law in restricting communication between federal law enforcement and state and local enforcement.

He also questioned the constitutionality of the legislation as it violates the exclusive right of the federal government to create and enforce the nation’s immigration laws.

In a follow-up letter to the Assembly Public Safety Committee, Pierson noted, “It is inconceivable that a bill that seeks to limit assistance with immigration enforcement to the fullest extent possible can be reconciled with the full purpose and objective of federal laws. The United States Congress intended to ‘entangle’ state and local agencies in immigration matters, which is why cooperation is so pervasive in the federal immigration framework. As discussed, the legal impact of federal preemption and supremacy appear likely to ultimately overcome any states’ rights argument concerning immigration laws which conflict in such a manner.”

Pierson said he thinks the bill and its sponsors are “working on a false presumption that local law enforcement is actively doing front line immigration enforcement. They are not. They are only contacting them (ICE) when a person is convicted of a crime. The bill is a flawed solution to a nonexistent problem.”

“The people who keep pushing the idea that local law enforcement is involved in illegal immigration sweeps are the same people who support this bill, yet they can’t cite any examples of it. So it sure seems a political thing,” he continued.

Currently if someone has committed a crime, immigration authorities are informed the person is going to be released so the process to consider deporting him/her can begin. The new legislation, if passed, would prevent immigration authorities from being informed, releasing potentially dangerous people back on the street.

Claiming the entire immigration system needs work, Pierson cited an example from a year ago when two officers were shot in the Fresno County jail by a convicted child rapist who had been released on parole.

“U.S. Immigration tried to deport him back to Thailand but Thailand refused to take him back because it considered him dangerous and that was his status when he shot those two officers. That needs to be fixed.

“If someone commits a crime, we should be able to make a decision to deport that person to their country of origin,” he added. “Right now we are allowing them to wander our streets and continue committing crimes – that’s what we’re doing now. This bill doesn’t fix the problem but makes it more difficult to enforce the law appropriately.”

Other consequences of the bill could be the loss of tens of millions of dollars in federal law enforcement grants as well as confusion over what the law is.

Pierson said if the bill passes the Assembly and Gov. Jerry Brown signs it, it will be challenged in court.

He also said in the end the U.S. Supreme Court will find most of the bill unconstitutional.

The proposed legislation now goes to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. From there it will go to the Assembly for a vote and if approved, will be sent to the governor.

“The governor may veto it,” said Pierson. “So we’ll see.”

Dawn Hodson

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