Dear PICO California clergy, leaders, board members, and staff:

Today, after nine long months of communities and congregations struggling to defend themselves against the rising tide of deportations that are ripping families apart, the California State Assembly has joined the State Senate in passing SB 54, the California Values Act, by a vote of 49-25!

PICO California and our 400 member congregations across 24 counties thank Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De León, his staff, and the membership of the California State Legislature for passing strong legislation that will allow thousands of families to stay together during a time of increasing danger for immigrants and communities of color across the state.

While SB 54 is not perfect, it establishes a critical new firewall between immigrant families and the federal deportation machine, since 60%-70% of all deportations in California originate in our jails and prisons. This is a crucial step in the right direction towards disentangling local law enforcement from ICE, since SB 54:

  1. Completely bars Hold Requests from Immigrations & Customs Enforcement (ICE)
  2. Expands the number of immigrants who will be protected from transfer to ICE custody – moving beyond the current TRUST Act status quo, to Prop 47 standards
  3. Establishes a 15 year wash out period for felony convictions
  4. Enacts strict limits on Transfer Requests and Notification Requestsarrests will no longer trigger transfers, only convictions
  5. Applies TRUTH Act standards to both prisons and jails, not solely to jails, so that immigrants are notified about their civil rights before ICE can interview them
  6. Ends the practice of Law Enforcement Agencies from calling ICE to provide interpretation services when a monolingual immigrant is in custody
  7. Prohibits 287(g) Agreements, ending the practice of deputizing local law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration law
  8. Requires Law Enforcement Agencies to report the number of transfers to ICE, and the basis for transfers, to the Attorney General annually

PICO California believes in the endless compassion and justice of our loving God. We call upon Governor Brown to sign SB 54 without delay. We also call upon local law enforcement officers to fully comply with SB 54, in the hopes that trust between law enforcement and families living in the communities of color can be renewed in our state.

“SB 54 is more than just a bill – it is a moral statement about the sanctity of families, redemption, mercy, and second chances for immigrants and citizens alike,” said Joseph Tomás Mckellar, Co Director of PICO California. “SB 54 will ensure California leads the country towards keeping thousands of families united while rebuking the demonization and scapegoating of immigrants and other racially and economically excluded groups.”

“The rise in white supremacy and deportations in our country go hand-in-hand,” said Rev. Ben McBride, Co Director of PICO California. “As the federal administration continues it’s hateful rhetoric towards our immigrant families, it is pumping money into Sheriffs and prisons to get local law enforcement to work with ICE to ramp up deportations. The continued opposition to SB 54, especially from the California State Sheriff’s Association, has used cloaked arguments to promote fear and anxiety. By passing SB 54, the California State Legislature has sent a strong rebuke of their scapegoating, in the name of peace and justice for oppressed people.”

“The passage of SB 54 in CA comes at a critical moment when our immigrant sisters and brothers are facing a white supremacist in the White House,” said Eddie Carmona, Director of LA RED of the PICO National Network. “This bill will provide much needed hope for families in CA and act as a firewall to Trumps deportation machine. SB 54 will provide a pivotal marker for the country as to what local state governments can do to protect immigrant families. We will continue to fight and resist this administrations immoral attack on our families. La lucha sigue.”

“Passage of SB 54 puts California on the right side of history at a time when our state and nation are threatened by forces of bigotry and fear. We urge Governor Brown to join us in standing up for love, compassion and justice for all of God’s children,” saidRev. Dr. George C.L. Cummings, Imani Community Church; Oakland Community Organizations

“Our faith traditions clearly teach us the importance of serving and protecting the sojourner and the immigrant. We regret the narrative of irrational fear toward immigrant families, who are neighbors and friends in our communities,” said Nate Millheim, Oakland Leadership Center; Oakland Community Organizations

“All our scriptures are clear that every human being is equally created in the image of God regardless of their place of birth. Our scriptures are replete with story and law about how we are commanded to treat immigrants from other lands with open hearts and hospitality,” said Rabbi David J. Cooper, Kehilla Community Synagogue; Oakland Community Organizations

“Immigrants and citizens alike deserve mercy, redemption and the protection of their families,” said Pastor Patrick Vaughn, Christ Church East Bay; Oakland Community Organizations

“People who follow what God asks of us should rejoice in the passage of SB 54! More than anything else, the Bible asks, even commands, us to take care of the sojourner, the foreigner, along with the poor and oppressed. This bill will help us enact such care and compassion in California,” said Rev. Dr. Tim Vivian, Priest-in-Charge, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Bakersfield; Faith in the Valley 

“Para mí es muy importante que pase la SB54 por que las leyes anti- inmigrantes del gobierno de Trump han hecho que nuestra comunidad inmigrante vivamos con miedo. Lo más importante si pasa esta ley podremos reportar un crimen a la policia, y circular por todo el estado sin ningún temor,” dijo Ramiro Muñoz, PACT Santa Clara

“True North recognizes PICO California’s statement that SB 54 is a moral statement for our times. All people in our state and our country deserve to be seen, and to be heard. The California Values Act sends a statement to all of our people that they matter, and that all people are important no matter what color they are, or where they come from,” said Terry Supahan, Director, True North Organizing Network, Humboldt & Del Norte 

“We look forward to a day and a time when bills like SB 54 will not be necessary. We are in full support of ensuring that our local law enforcement resources are not squandered by deporting families in our communities: bus-boys, mothers, hardworking fathers,” said Father Tommie Jennings, Christ the King Catholic Church; San Diego Organizing Project

“As a religious leader, I can think of 54 reasons why passing SB54 was the right thing to do. But reason number one is that it upholds the dignity and worth of all people and makes a clear and bold statement that we are out of step with the current federal administration’s policies,” said Rev. Penny Nixon, Peninsula Solidarity Network; Faith in Action Bay Area

“The passage of SB54 has been the answer to our prayers for our community. This will help alleviate some of the fears and insecurities the families in our community faces every day. SB 54’s passage is something that is just and moral. It is the recognition of human value, and the contributions of our immigrant community,” said Rev. Carlos Rincon, Pastor of Centro de Vida Victoriosa Assemblies of God, LA Voice, Los Angeles