‘There’s a strong protection for immigrants’: UC Berkeley singles out itself for being a sanctuary campus

A University of California system campus announced earlier this week that it will no longer fund campus police, but is touting its own association with the coalition that drafted the legislation outlining the Justice Department’s sanctuary cities guidelines.

UC Berkeley said it will no longer fund police because the funding will be redistributed by the state to other local law enforcement agencies.

The school instead highlighted its work as a member of the Task Force on 21st Century Policing, which drafted the congressional bill that outlined the Justice Department’s 2017 sanctuary cities guidelines.

The Berkeley statement also noted the campus is seeking a “progressive and inclusive” campus by purchasing solar panels and supporting the plan to combine all of the university’s schools into a unified university system.

One of those members of the task force was Matt Gonzalez, a noted supporter of the sanctuary cities order and a former California state assemblyman who co-authored the task force with former Rep. Darryl Issa (R-Calif.).

The university’s Sanctuary Campus Act, which sparked the latest controversy over the funding decision, was approved by the campus council in November and then signed into law by UC President Janet Napolitano last month.

Gonzalez will lead the campus council as chair, according to his biography on the task force’s website.

The newly backed Berkeley law imposes a ban on using university resources for immigration enforcement purposes. The university is also funding a pilot project that would restrict or limit campus police from sharing information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials.

“The Task Force on 21st Century Policing chose the Berkeley campus to be a model of progressive and inclusive policing,” the Berkeley statement on the law said.

“These efforts will further benefit the campus through greater collaboration with student groups and more involvement in joint initiatives with city and county law enforcement agencies,” it added.

But a federal court Friday said the temporary hold on issuing immigration and student information to ICE was intended to be permanent.

The move to ban campus police from sharing information with ICE could face future challenges if Berkeley’s lawyers challenge the federal immigration judge’s decision.

The Berkeley law drew strong reactions from both right and left sides of the political spectrum after it was approved last year.

The decision drew criticism from hardline immigration backers who found the move to be an unelected decision that bypassed local law enforcement officials and the public.

“It’s always dangerous to trust the tyranny of the majority over the liberty of the minority,” said Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), a fiscal conservative, said at the time.

But local law enforcement groups also came out strongly against the move, saying it would jeopardize “essential intelligence-gathering.”

One of the main reasons for the controversy was the fact that Napolitano, a former Homeland Security secretary, helped advise the Trump administration on immigration, and that the administration has increased detention and deportation actions in the last few months.

Also, the UC law changes stemmed from the November 2016 election, when California voters re-elected Napolitano and expanded voter-approved legislation that restricted how local police could participate in federal immigration matters.

The immigration law, which Napolitano signed into law, was more than a decade in the making and was passed by the California state legislature, which is heavily Democratic.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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