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How Does SB 54 Affect Immigration in California?

Posted on 6/5/2018 by

Senate Bill 54 became law in California in January 2018. Find out how this new law affects immigration in California.

On September 15, 2017, California lawmakers passed Senate Bill 54 (SB 54), commonly referred to as the California Values Act. Signed into effect by Governor Brown and taking effect in January 2018, the bill places limits on communication and cooperation between state and local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities. The bill has been called a 'sanctuary state' bill by both supporters and opponents, and it is in large part a direct response to the Trump administration's ramped up deportation efforts and increasingly strong anti-immigrant rhetoric. The highly politicized and polarizing nature of the bill has engendered misconceptions on both sides about what the bill does and doesn't do. This article provides a brief overview of the bill and what it means for immigration in California.

What Does SB 54 Do? 

The act points to the importance of trust between California’s immigrants and state and local agencies, and the role that trust plays in the public safety of the people of California. When state and local law enforcement becomes "entangled" with federal authorities, that trust is lost and immigrant communities become afraid to seek help from the police, state-run health services, or even to send their children to public schools. SB 54 creates safe zones in schools, hospitals, and courthouses, preventing federal immigration officials from entering these areas to question people about their immigration status. The bill also limits the information that state and local law enforcement can share with federal authorities and prevents immigrants from being detained on the basis of federal immigration violations.

What Doesn't SB 54 Do?

SB 54 does not create an absolute wall between federal authorities and local law enforcement. The bill includes an exception to the information sharing prohibition that allows police and sheriff departments in California to share information with immigration officials and/or transfer individuals if they've been convicted of one of nearly 800 crimes listed in a previous bill. The list of crimes includes all violent felonies, sex offenses, gang-related activity, etc.


Immigration law is a prominent national issue, and the legal landscape is in a state of flux. The Department of Justice has already filed a legal challenge to SB 54. While many legal scholars believe the law is likely to pass constitutional muster, there are no guarantees. Those with concerns about their immigration status, immigrants dealing with workplace injuries, or even something like estate planning with a non-citizen spouse, need a lawyer who understands this shifting area of law. The Law Offices of Tyler Q. Dahl offers legal expertise across a variety of practice areas, with fluency in both English and Spanish. Give us a call at 916-545-2790 or get in contact online to speak with an attorney today.