A little more than a week after Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 54, a blockbuster bill that prohibits state and local law enforcement from acting as immigration officers, folks packed Christ the King Catholic Church in Grant Hill to hear how San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman and Sheriff Bill Gore plan to implement the law locally. The event was put on by the San Diego Organizing Project, a faith-based community group.

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SB 54 faced strong opposition from the California State Sheriffs’ Association, which didn’t like the fact that the law kicks ICE out of county jails, where they’d take undocumented offenders into custody. Gore echoed that concern Monday evening. “We always felt it was safer [for ICE] to arrest someone in jail rather than in the neighborhood,” he said.

Both Gore and Zimmerman made it clear that their officers, regardless of the new law, don’t ask a person’s immigration status during routine contacts. Neither department had ever participated in 287g, the federal program that allows police and sheriff’s deputies to act as federal agents, they both said.

“You have my commitment that we are not immigration officers,” Zimmerman said.

Yet there have been occasions recently when Sheriff’s deputies’ actions have directly resulted in immigration enforcement, like when deputies pulled over a couple near Mission Bay in June, called Border Patrol to inquire about the couple’s border-crossing activity and waited for federal agents to arrive and detain them.

A more nebulous issue has been the jails. Prior to SB 54, immigration officers had desks inside three San Diego County jails. Though SB 54 puts an end to that, Gore said that ICE will still know who’s in jail, and a late amendment to the bill allows the sheriff to notify ICE and transfer to their custody people who’ve committed felonies and certain misdemeanors.

“They’re going to know if there’s somebody … they want to take custody of,” Gore said.

Both Gore and Zimmerman were asked if they’d commit to not supporting any ballot measure seeking to overturn SB 54 — as the bill made its way through the legislative process, there was talk of opponents spearheading such an initiative. On Oct. 17, Ben Berquam, a conservative activist from Fresno, filed paperwork with the secretary of state, the first step for a referendum to overturn the law.

Zimmerman said she tries to stay out of politics. Gore said he’d need to see the ballot measure’s language, but added that he wants to see how SB 54 works.

“I think Gov. Brown made some significant changes,” he said. “I’m going to follow the law as written and see how it plays out.”

Kelly Davis

Expect de León’s SD Roots to Loom Large in Senate Race

California Senate Pro Tempore Kevin de León announced last weekend that he’ll challenge Sen. Dianne Feinstein in 2018.

De León represents neighborhoods in Los Angeles, but his roots are in San Diego. Expect him to play up those roots as he seeks to highlight the ways in which he differs from Feinstein.

Here are some of the ways he and others have described his background so far as he’s risen to prominence over the last several months.

From his Senate campaign bio:

Senator de León is the son of a single immigrant mother who supported her family in the San Diego barrio of Logan Heights working as a housekeeper and other pick-up jobs. He was the first in his family to graduate from high school and college.

From California Sunday:

In conversation, de León and Rendon come across quite differently. De León, who is 50, grew up in a San Diego barrio with, in his own telling, a chip on his shoulder. These days, he is very much the practiced politician, dressed in tailored suits, always in a rush, quick to name-drop, but always measuring his words.

From Mother Jones:

De León spent his early years acutely aware of those differences. Born to a Guatemalan mother, he remembers riding the bus with her as she commuted from the basement where they lived to the opulent San Diego homes she cleaned. When de León commented earlier this year that “half of my family would be eligible for deportation” if Trump’s immigration orders had been in effect decades ago, right-wing media denounced his family as criminals.

Oops: One Last Batch of Bill Signings and Vetoes

Breaking news: I lied!

I told you last week it’d be the final bill-signing wrap for the year, but I discounted all the bills Gov. Jerry Brown signed over the weekend, including one of the big bills on our watch list:

SB 179 by Sen. Toni Atkins lets residents change their names and gender markers on state-issued documents, and allows for people to select a “nonbinary” gender option on state forms.

Brown also signed Atkins’ SB 310, which allows prison and jail inmates to petition for name and gender changes.

Here are the other bills from San Diego lawmakers Brown signed to end the session, plus some vetoes.

AB 250 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher establishes a program for low-cost accommodations along the coast.

AB 746 by Gonzalez Fletcher requires that schools test drinking water for lead and notify parents if elevated traces of lead are detected.

AB 841 by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber bill prohibits public schools participating in the National School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program from advertising food or beverages that don’t meet specified nutritional standards.

AB 967 by Assemblyman Todd Gloria regulates certain processes for disposing of human remains.

AB 1137 by Assemblyman Brian Maienschein requires subsidized housing developments to allow pets.

AB 1221 by Gonzalez Fletcher requires bartenders to receive training to help reduce drunk-driving accidents.

AB 1344 by Weber requires the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and county probation workers, to provide information about voting rights to the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated.

AB 1637 by Gloria grants new authority to the San Diego Housing Commission and its counterpart in Santa Clara County to develop and finance mixed-income housing projects.

SB 230 by Atkins allows prosecutors to introduce character evidence in sex trafficking cases.

SB 615 by Sen. Ben Hueso helps restore the Salton Sea by creating efficiencies for construction facilities to separate fresh water from highly saline water.


AB 233 by Gloria affirmed students’ right to wear religious and other adornments during graduation ceremonies.

AB 568 by Gonzalez Fletcher required schools and community colleges to provide six weeks of paid maternity leave.

AB 569 by Gonzalez Fletcher prohibited employers from firing an employee over a reproductive health decision.

AB 1029 by Weber required school safety planning committees to include an expert in children’s emotional health.

AB 1068 by Gonzalez Fletcher would have created a pilot program that favored companies that employ ex-offenders for state contracts.

AB 1209 by Gonzalez Fletcher required employers of 500 or more to publicize pay information by gender.

SB 357 by Hueso established a trade office in Mexico.

SB 494 by Hueso established a grant program to boost literacy.

SB 649 established a uniform permitting process for wireless equipment.

Golden State News

• Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Rep. Juan Vargas held a panel on sex trafficking in San Diego earlier this week. (Union-Tribune)

• Police are finding large numbers of illegal Chinese immigrants working on illegal marijuana operations in California and Colorado. (McClatchy)

• More than 140 women signed on to a letter decrying a culture of sexual harassment inside the California Capitol. One explosive allegation in particular about an unnamed sitting legislator is being investigated. (L.A. Times)

• California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris wrote a joint letter to the FCC questioning why some families impacted by the Northern California wildfires didn’t receive cell phone warning alerts.

• Unpredictable as he is, there’s a pattern to some of Gov. Jerry Brown’s vetoes. (CalMatters)

• This is a cool profile on a Northern California judge who decides some of the world’s biggest tech cases. (The Verge)

• California’s bar exam is going to stay really, really hard. (Wall Street Journal)

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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