After breaking rank on cap-and-trade, Central Coast Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham voted with other Republicans in opposition to the sanctuary state bill that passed the California Legislature over the weekend.
SB 54, if signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, will prohibit state and local law enforcement from inquiring about a person’s immigration status or providing information to federal authorities. The bill, also known as the California Values Act, comes in response to President Donald Trump’s tough policies on immigration enforcement.
Cunningham, an attorney by trade, said on the Assembly floor that SB 54 protects criminals.
“This bill today, I have no doubt compromises public safety. It protects suspected criminals from deportation at the expense of law-abiding residents, including their communities,” Cunningham said prior to the bill passing the Assembly.
Many local law enforcement agencies objected to SB 54 and lobbied Gov. Brown to intervene. Last week, legislators agreed to allow law enforcement agencies to work with federal immigration officials in cases in which the suspect has been convicted of certain crimes, such as gang related offenses, assault, murder, felony DUI and child abuse.
Nonetheless, the California State Sheriffs’ Association remained opposed to the bill. In a tweet published on Saturday, after the Assembly passed the bill, Cunningham sympathized with California’s sheriffs.
“SB 54 puts our sheriffs in the middle of a political brawl between the federal government and our state, at the expense of public safety,” Cunningham wrote.
The bill passed the Assembly on a 51-26 vote and the Senate 27-11. Democrats used supermajorities to pass SB 54, which they say will protect an estimated 2.3 million undocumented immigrants from deportation and maintain their access to health care.
Recently, Cunningham has received considerable flak from local conservatives for voting with the Democrats to extend California’s cap-and-trade program. The decision made by Cunningham and seven other Republicans to support the bill led to the ouster of Assembly Republican Caucus leader Chad Mayes, who likewise voted for the cap-and-trade legislation.