(The Blaze/AP) – Illegal immigrants arrested for committing minor offenses in California will be exempt from status checks by local police if a bill now approved by the state Senate becomes law.
San Francisco Democratic Assemblyman Tom Ammiano said he wrote AB1081 because a federal policy requiring local law enforcement to check the immigration status of an arrestee wastes resources and erodes trust.
It passed 21-13 Thursday on party lines. The bill has already passed the Democrat-controlled state Assembly and will go back to the Assembly for a concurrence vote before landing on Gov. Jerry Brown's desk. He is a Democrat.
Under the bill, officers would only refer people convicted of serious felonies to immigration officials. They would no longer detain lower-level offenders on immigration holds.
The bill has been dubbed "anti-Arizona" legislation, a reference to Arizona's "show me your papers" law recently upheld by the Supreme Court, which requires police officers to check the immigration status of people they stop if they have reasonable suspicion they are in the country illegally.
"Today's vote signals to the nation that California cannot afford to be another Arizona," Ammiano said in a statement. "The bill also limits unjust and onerous detentions for deportation in local jails of community members who do not pose a threat to public safety."
Reuters reports the bill has the support of roughly 100 immigrant rights groups, police chiefs and mayors.
Critics say Arizona's law may lead to racial profiling of Hispanics in the state. Meanwhile, advocates argue the federal government has failed to secure the U.S. border, leaving the state vulnerable to drug smuggling and cartel violence.
California currently has the largest population of illegal aliens in the U.S., with 2.6 million in 2010, Reuters reports.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.