SACRAMENTO – Senator Tom Berryhill, R-Twain Harte, on Wednesday announced plans to introduce a constitutional amendment to strengthen and protect communities by weeding out undocumented violent felons.
The measure would require the California Department of Justice to send the records of all individuals convicted of violent felonies to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials for the purposes of identification and deportation following the completion of their prison sentence. Once deported, any person convicted of a violent felony would be guilty of a deportable offense upon their return to California, which DOJ would be required to report to ICE.
“Immigration remains an unresolved issue in California – one worthy of a robust debate,” Berryhill said. “But we should start where we agree: Violent felons should not be allowed to remain in our neighborhoods. I agree wholeheartedly with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, in both houses, who have expressed the same sentiment.”
The bill would bar any undocumented person convicted of a violent felony from receiving aid from various state-funded assistance programs and would permanently revoke driving privileges from any such persons, thereby removing the incentives to return.
“The vast majority of undocumented immigrants are not criminals,” Berryhill said. “But it only takes one person, one crime, to destroy a family -- so one is too many.”
For the purposes of this legislation, violent felony is defined by Penal Code section 1192.7. The state’s definition of violent felony excludes certain violent crimes, but presents a logical starting point that can be expanded in the future.
“By focusing on the existing list of violent felonies, I believe I have found an area where we can all agree,” Berryhill said. “We can debate the rest later, but this is an area where we can all agree and it should be done now for the safety of our state.