In this Faith in the Valley Justice interview, we feature three Faith In the Valley organizers from different locations across the Central Valley and we explore how to critically engage new and infrequent voters who question the electoral voting process.
After nine long months of communities and congregations struggling to defend themselves against the rising tide of deportations that are ripping families apart, SB 54, the California Values Act, has been signed into law.
Faith in the Valley, along with PICO California and its 400 member congregations across 24 counties, thank Governor Brown, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De León, his staff, and the membership of the California State Legislature for passing strong legislation that will allow thousands of families to stay together during a time of increasing danger for immigrants and communities of color across the state.
While SB 54 is not perfect, it establishes a critical new firewall between immigrant families and the federal deportation machine, since 60%-70% of all deportations in California originate in our jails and prisons. This is a crucial step in the right direction towards disentangling local law enforcement from ICE, since SB 54:
- Completely bars Hold Requests from Immigrations & Customs Enforcement (ICE)
- Expands the number of immigrants who will be protected from transfer to ICE custody – moving beyond the current TRUST Act status quo, to Prop 47 standards
- Establishes a 15 year wash out period for felony convictions
- Enacts strict limits on Transfer Requests and Notification Requests: arrests will no longer trigger transfers, only convictions
- Applies TRUTH Act standards to both prisons and jails, not solely to jails, so that immigrants are notified about their civil rights before ICE can interview them
- Ends the practice of Law Enforcement Agencies from calling ICE to provide interpretation services when a monolingual immigrant is in custody
- Prohibits 287(g) Agreements, ending the practice of deputizing local law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration law
- Requires Law Enforcement Agencies to report the number of transfers to ICE, and the basis for transfers, to the Attorney General annually
“SB 54 is more than just a bill – it is a moral statement about the sanctity of families, redemption, mercy, and second chances for immigrants and citizens alike,” said Joseph Tomás Mckellar, Co Director of PICO California. “SB 54 will ensure California leads the country towards keeping thousands of families united while rebuking the demonization and scapegoating of immigrants and other racially and economically excluded groups.”
“People who follow what God asks of us should rejoice in the passage of SB 54! More than anything else, the Bible asks, even commands, us to take care of the sojourner, the foreigner, along with the poor and oppressed. This bill will help us enact such care and compassion in California,” said Rev. Dr. Tim Vivian, Priest-in-Charge, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Bakersfield (Faith in the Valley).