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State Law Enforcement Officers May be Restricted in Detaining Illegal Immigrants

The California Senate just signed a bill that will restrict state law enforcement agents from detaining illegal immigrants unless the immigrant has a prior conviction for a serious or violent felony. The bill is going to the State Assembly soon where it is expected to pass.

The new law may lead to some conflicts between federal and state law. It sounds like law enforcement officers are going to have to think on their feet after they contact an immigrant while on duty. Police will have to make a determination whether or not the immigrant has a significant enough criminal history to justify detaining them for the federal authorities. This doesn’t sound too tough to me, but it sounds like California’s new law may have some things in common with our medical marijuana laws: what the state does here and what the federal government does here are likely to be two very different things.

California seems to want to distinguish itself from states like Arizona where Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his band of merry men seem to think that every alien is a criminal. Frankly, at a time when inmates in my county are serving jail sentences of less than ten percent of their imposed sentences, maybe we can use the jail space for real criminals and save the taxpayers a few bucks by looking the other way.

If you have questions about criminal aliens, immigration or any other criminal law issue contact me attorney Jeffrey S. Vallens at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Vallens, APC: or email me at or call me: (818) 783-5700