SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The ACLU and California Immigrant Policy Center urged California lawmakers to take a stand on what they call unfair state laws. From immigration policy, to bail reform, to protection for Muslims, Californians spoke out on Capitol steps on Monday eager for state leaders to make changes now.
“This country had open borders going back to the 1800s,’ said Bernard Marks, a Holocaust survivor. “They were invited to come here, build this country. They built the country. Those people were also undocumented. Maybe we should haven’t deported those, right?”
Diana Vargas-Avelica wants California to lead the charge on the county’s treatment of immigrants after her uncle, Romulo Avelica, was taken away by immigration agents in Los Angeles.
“It’s been a month already that he has been detained and that month has been like an eternity for us,” Vargas-Avelica said.
Avelica was arrested while dropping off his children at school back in April. He’s one of an estimated 2 million undocumented immigrants living in California—he same people whom the ACLU says are at risk under President Trump’s administration.
“The things that are coming from our president and from other sources, falsely blaming immigrants for crime, falsely blaming Muslims, these types of fear mongering tactics impact people,” said Natasha Minsker, California ACLU Policy Director.
Senate Bill 54 aims to stop local law enforcement agencies from enforcing immigration policies. Instead, the bill would keep schools, hospitals and courthouses accessible to residents regardless of their immigration status.
Another issue the ACLU is trying to change is California’s money bail system. State Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Los Angeles) and Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) wrote joint bills (Assembly Bill 42 and SB10) to replace the current system with a fairer pretrial assessment.
“Are you a flight risk or are you a public safety risk?” asked Sen. Hertzberg. “If you’re not, you shouldn’t be sitting in jail, costing the taxpayers a bunch of dough.”
Melodie Henderson found herself in a San Diego jail at 21 with bail set at $15,000.
“I was incarcerated with other mothers, you know, that were away from their children, and you know were losing their jobs, losing their cars and these were people who were hard workers and they made a mistake,” she said.
With her family unable to afford her bail, Henderson said she’s spent the last 10 years climbing out of debt.
“No matter how much money you make, how you pray or where you’re from, you should be treated fairly and equally here in California,” Minsker said.
Speakers also urged lawmakers to protect California Muslims from a registry by passing Senate Bill 31. The bill passed in the Senate on Monday after with a vote of 34-0.