Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Wednesday urged Gov. Jerry Brown to sign legislation that would prohibit local law enforcement from detaining arrestees who are illegal immigrants as well as effectively blunt federal deportation efforts.
Villaraigosa's comments came during a lunch panel at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., where the mayor is serving as chairman of the proceedings. Asked about the measure, which passed the Legislature last week, he said the governor should "absolutely" sign it.
"Gov. Brown should sign it," Villaraigosa said at the panel event, which was sponsored by the National Journal, ABC News and Univision. "I expect him to sign it."
He added: “California needs to be different from Arizona."
Advocates of the bill have argued that California should use the legislation to distinguish itself from such states as Arizona, which sparked a national firestorm with its tough anti-illegal-immigration law.
The California measure is aimed at blunting federal immigration enforcement, in particular the Secure Communities program, under which fingerprints of arrestees are shared with immigration officials who can issue hold orders.
Advocates say the proposed state legislation will prevent illegal immigrants from being detained and possibly deported for relatively minor legal entanglements such as traffic infractions and misdemeanors. Under the bill, arrestees who have previous convictions for a serious or violent felony will still be detained.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca is among the California sheriffs who have said they plan to defy the legislation if Brown signs it, and continue to hold suspects when requested to do so by federal authorities.
Sheriffs say the measure would put them in a difficult position by forcing them to renege on their obligations to the federal government.
-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento and David Lauter in Charlotte, N.C.
Photo: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa addresses delegates Tuesday during the opening night of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times