On Thursday, California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a controversial bill that would have protected immigrants with low-level drug charges from being deported, so long as they completed treatment programs, suggesting that the bill “goes too far.”
“While I support the goal of giving low-level offenders a second-chance, I am concerned that the bill eliminates the most powerful incentive to stay in treatment–the knowledge that judgment will be entered for failure to do so,” Brown said in his message about his decision to veto AB 1351.
He concluded that his decision was steeped in the notion that “the bill goes too far.”
AB 1351, which was authored by Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton), would have ensured that illegal aliens charged with possession and other minor narcotic crimes would only face criminal proceedings, not deportation, if they failed to complete treatment.
In the past, Eggman has said “for those who want to get treatment and get their life right, we should see that with open arms, not see it as a way of deporting somebody,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Times notes that Eggman’s bill focused on a discrepancy between state and federal law. Whereas nearly all drug convictions are permanent under federal law, even if the person undergoes treatment, in California, people charged with minor drug crimes who plead guilty and enter treatment can have the charges wiped from their record once their drug counseling programs are completed.
Additionally, under federal law, both illegal immigrants and those who possess green cards can reportedly be deported for drug convictions. AB 1351 sought to eliminate that possibility at the state level.
The Times also notes that the bill stirred up a great deal of opposition from district attorneys, who argued the it would prove burdensome by creating more work for prosecutors who would need to track down offenders if they ended up not completing their drug treatment.
A report in July of this year by Breitbart News, based data acquired through the U.S. Sentencing Commission, found that while illegal immigrants account for about 3.5 percent of the U.S population, they represented 36.7 percent of federal sentences in fiscal year 2014 following criminal convictions.