This week, Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) introduced legislation that will protect the privacy, safety and well-being of Californians, including immigrant communities. The California office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CA), Asian Americans Advancing Justice-California, and Secure Justice are co-sponsoring the Safe California Civil Rights Act (AB 2598).

This legislation would “require California law enforcement agencies to follow state and local laws and policies at all times, and create transparency and oversight measures for state and local agencies participating in the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).”

“Currently, and for the past two decades, many Californians have been the targets of pervasive surveillance and harassment by the FBI and their Joint Terrorism Task Force,” said Assemblymember Bonta. “Often, the JTTF has targeted vulnerable young men, specifically in the Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian communities. This bill requires state and local law enforcement to follow California laws when participating in a JTTF.”

Jeffrey Wang, Civil Rights Attorney, CAIR-CA states:

“This bill takes a critical step towards increasing transparency and accountability by requiring local law enforcement adhere to stricter California and local standards when collaborating with the FBI’s JTTF, instead of weaker federal rules. This bill will curtail the ability of the Trump administration to target California’s vulnerable communities by allowing the public to know exactly what kind of relationship California law enforcement agencies have with the FBI.”

Javeria Jamil, Staff Attorney, National Security and Civil Rights at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-California states:

“In the past three years, this administration has mounted a massive assault on the civil liberties and rights of Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian communities, who have borne the brunt of unjust national security policies. The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and its surveillance dragnet have been instrumental in helping the administration carry out this assault. This bill would provide a significant firewall between California law enforcement agencies and the FBI. It will ensure that California police departments continue to follow state and local laws–and protect the rights of all Californians–even when they are participating in the FBI’s task force.”

Brian Hofer, Executive Director, Secure Justice states:

“When the President attacks California values in the press and his State of the Union comments, it is important that our local law enforcement adhere to our higher moral code, especially when working with a federal agency like the FBI, an agency with a lengthy checkered past of its own. The Safe California Civil Rights Act will ensure that in any collaboration between our police force and the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, our police officers will follow our rules.”