Bonta Introduces Package of Bills to Protect Californians’ Civil Liberties & Immigrant Communities

Thursday, February 20, 2020

SACRAMENTO - Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) has introduced legislation that will protect the privacy, safety and well-being of Californians, including immigrant communities.  The three bills will protect immigrant communities and residents’ civil liberties by strengthening state laws against federal government overreach. The bills will protect immigrant communities, prevent violations of state and local laws during police Joint Terrorism Task Forces, and restrict state contracting with companies that supply “data broker” or “extreme vetting” services to federal immigration agencies.A.B. 2596, The VISION Act

The Voiding Inequality and Seeking Inclusion for Our Immigrant Neighbors (VISION) Act, would protect individuals who were convicted as youth and have earned release from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and from jails from being directly transferred to immigration authorities for deportation purposes.

“Once a Californian has paid their debt to society, and earned their release from our state prisons or jails, they should be released back to society rather than funneled into immigration detention and deportation,” said Bonta.
A.B. 2596 is co-sponsored by Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ-CA)
"As the Trump administration further steps up attacks on our immigrant communities to increase fear and tear apart families, California also has to step up our leadership The VISION Act takes needed strides toward ensuring that our local and state tax dollars are not used to violate Constitutional protections, separate immigrant families, and subject immigrants to double punishment," said Angela Chan, Policy Director and Senior Staff Attorney on behalf of Asian Americans Advancing Justice - California, a co-sponsoring organization.

A.B. 2597, The Sanctuary Contracting Act

A.B. 2597 will prohibit any state agency from entering into, or renewing a contract, with a private business entity that supplies “data broker” or “extreme vetting” (analytics) services to federal immigration agencies on or after January 1, 2021. This bill would require businesses to certify that they will not provide any data or extreme vetting services to Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE), California Border Patrol (CBP) and the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).

“Even though California is a sanctuary state, immigrant communities continue to be under attack by the federal administration and by private companies that provide critical data and information to help the federal government carry out its hate-fueled agenda of mass detention and deportations,” said Bonta. “As California has done in the past, we will flex our state’s economic muscle in support of our most vulnerable immigration populations.”

A.B. 2597 is sponsored by Secure Justice.

A.B. 2598 The Safe California Civil Rights Act

A.B. 2598 would explicitly require California law enforcement agencies to follow state and local laws and policies at all times, and create transparency and oversight measures for state and local agencies participating in the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).

“Currently, and for the past two decades, many Californians have been the targets of pervasive surveillance and harassment by the FBI and their Joint Terrorism Task Force,” said Bonta. “Often, the JTTF has targeted vulnerable young men, specifically in the Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian communities. This bill requires state and local law enforcement to follow California laws when participating in a JTTF.”
For example, under JTTF guidelines, FBI agents can open assessments and conduct intelligence gathering against anyone they choose without reasonable suspicion, using intrusive investigative tools such as informants, and asking people to submit to “voluntary” interviews.

A.B. 2598 is sponsored by the Council on American Islamic Relations-California and Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans,  Asian Americans Advancing Justice – California, and Secure Justice

Javeria Jamil, Staff Attorney, National Security and Civil Rights at Asian Americans Advancing Justice - California (Co-Sponsor) --

"In the past three years, this administration has mounted a massive assault on the civil liberties and rights of Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian communities, who have borne the brunt of unjust national security policies. The FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force and its surveillance dragnet have been instrumental in helping the administration carry out this assault. This bill would provide a significant firewall between California law enforcement agencies and the FBI. It will ensure that California police departments continue to follow state and local laws--and protect the rights of all Californians--even when they are participating in the FBI's task force."

Ammad Rafiqi, Civil Rights & Legal Services Coordinator, Council on American Islamic Relations-California (Co-Sponsor) –

“In line with the state of California’s professed values of anti-discrimination, inclusivity and safety, this bill ensures that all Californians continue to be guaranteed freedom of speech, religious expression and essential civil liberties by requiring transparency and accountability from local law enforcement agencies when they collaborate with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. Requiring local governing body oversight and approval curtails the ability of the Trump administration to target vulnerable communities in its anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant policies”

Brian Hofer, Secure Justice, Executive Director (Co-Sponsor) -

"When the President attacks California values in the press and his State of the Union comments, it is important that our local law enforcement adhere to our higher moral code, especially when working with a federal agency like the FBI, an agency with a lengthy checkered past of its own. The Safe California Civil Rights Act will ensure that in any collaboration between our police force and the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force, our police officers will follow our rules."

Assemblymember Rob Bonta represents the 18th Assembly District, which includes the cities of Oakland, Alameda, and San Leandro and is the Assistant Majority Leader.