Legislators propose more protections for federally targeted immigrants

Political Connection

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — State lawmakers unveiled a new set of proposals Thursday to strengthen protections for immigrants targeted by federal immigration authorities.

“To do everything in my power to stand up for, defend and protect our vulnerable communities,” said Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda.

One proposal protects released convicts who were sentenced when they were juveniles by preventing the Department of Corrections from giving them over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“We shouldn’t be deporting our young people. We should think about how we can love and resource our communities so they don’t get labeled in the first place and end up in a system that is so cruel,” said Phal Sok, a formerly convicted juvenile.

Another bill would call for more oversight of law enforcement agencies participating in the FBI’s Terrorism Task Force.

The bill is an attempt to prevent what happened to Sarmad Gilani from happening again. Gilani is the son of immigrants and was approached by agents at his work in 2014.

“They began asking me questions about my recent travels to visit my family in Pakistan or to visit Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj, which I had done a few years prior to that,” he explained. “They started asking me about drone strikes and about Taliban movements and things I had nothing to do with nor do I know about.”

Law enforcement groups on Thursday said they are still reviewing the legislation, but Bonta expects them to put up a fight.

“I look forward to the opportunity to make my case why this bill shouldn’t concern them, but I’m not naïve about where they’re likely to be,” said Bonta.

Bonta also wants the state to stop working with any private business offering data or vetting services to federal immigration authorities.

All the bills currently await hearings in Assembly committees.

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