Local law enforcement would be barred from detaining people based on their immigration status unless they were convicted of a felony or serious crime under a measure approved today by the Senate.
The 24-10 vote advances the bill to the Assembly for a final vote later this week.
Assembly Bill 4, by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, has set off demonstrations across the state since Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a similar version of the measure last year.
Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, said the bill seeks to curb what supporters believe are abuses of the federal Secure Communities program. They argue the measure will establish reasonable limits for local responses to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement program's "detainer" requests, which remain voluntary.
"As we've seen time and time again this program has cast too far wide a net," de León said.
That includes examples of women calling authorities to report abuse and finding themselves detained and deported, he said, leaving their native-born children in the foster care system.
Supporters including the American Civil Liberties Union further assert that local jails currently bear the brunt of costs to respond to such requests.
Opponents of the measure say they remain concerned that it could result in inappropriate and ill-timed releases of potentially dangerous individuals. The critics including the district attorneys association also argue the bill could frustrate local cooperation with federal officials who are chiefly in charge of enforcing the nation's immigration laws.
Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, said the Legislature's actions essentially "put another set of handcuffs" on local law enforcement.
"This is a critical tool to law enforcement and you're throwing it away in the wastebasket," he said.
PHOTO: Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles. The Sacramento Bee/Manny Crisostomo.