California recently passed a bill to protect undocumented immigrants who are the victims of crimes from being deported. California has the largest population of undocumented immigrants in the country at an estimated 2.45 million. The California Assembly passed the Immigrant Victims of Crime Equity Act, sponsored by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins of San Diego and Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León of Los Angeles. The bill is now headed to Governor Jerry Brown for signing. If signed by the governor, it will become state law.
S.B. 674 requires local and state law enforcement agencies to sign certifications for qualified immigrant crime victims when they have been helpful to the investigation of crimes like sexual assault and domestic violence. The certifications are prerequisites to an application for a Victim of Crime “U-Visa,” which is issued by the federal government to prevent deportation of victims of specific crimes who have been helpful to the investigation or prosecution. S.B. 674 also provides relief for victims of domestic violence. The intent of the Bill is to curb crime, since victims of crime tend to not report it or cooperate with law enforcement if they are in the country illegally. The bill is part of the sweeping Immigrants Shape California legislative package.
Under federal law, being in the country illegally is grounds for deportation. If S.B. 674 is passed, it would mean that victims of sexual crimes and domestic violence in California would not face potential deportation for reporting the crime.