The California State Senate passed a bill Thursday that is being called the "anti-Arizona law" by pro-immigrant activists.
The TRUST Act, as it is officially known, would set higher standards for placing immigration detainers on suspected undocumented immigrants when they are arrested by local police.
California participates in the federal program known as Secure Communities. When local police arrest a suspect he or she is background-checked against the FBI's criminal database to determine if the detainee has a criminal record and is unlawfully present or otherwise removable.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement then decides if it wants to put a "hold" on the detainee, so local cops do not release the individual until he or she is interviewed by ICE.
Ultimately, ICE determines whether to place the person in deportation proceedings based on a number of factors.
The bill still needs the California Assembly's final approval and Governor Jerry Brown's blessing for it to become law.
But if it does become law it would not allow California police to turn over suspected illegal immigrants to ICE unless the person has been convicted of a violent crime.
Ironically, this would put into practice the Obama administration's stated policy of prioritizing the removal of aliens convicted of serious crimes, a policy pro-immigrant activists claim is more lip service than reality.