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Mexico takes steps to ease return of young immigrants
Mexico takes steps to ease return of young immigrants

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Mexico's top diplomat on Tuesday said his country is taking steps to ease the return of young immigrants whose deportation protection is being rescinded by the Trump administration, but he also acknowledged they would prefer to stay in the United States.

On a visit to Los Angeles, Foreign Relations Secretary Luis Videgaray said his government is making it easier to transfer education credits and is extending a loan program for young entrepreneurs.

He said Mexico also created a job bank with the immigrants in mind after President Donald Trump announced his decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program that allows them to work in the United States.

Mexico will also provide legal assistance to immigrants and lobby U.S. lawmakers to draft a plan for the immigrants brought to the United States as children — often referred to as "dreamers" — to obtain legal status.

"With each 'dreamer' who returns to Mexico, Mexico wins," Videgaray said at the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles. But, he added, "What is relevant is not which country wins here. What is relevant here is what the 'dreamers' want."

The Trump administration's decision to phase out the program dealt an especially harsh blow to the Mexican community in the United States because about three-quarters of the 800,000 immigrants protected by the Obama-era program are Mexican.

The decision came as relations between Mexico and the United States have been strained by Trump's calls to build a wall on the border of the two countries — a move that Videgaray considers "not friendly" — and as negotiations demanded by Trump to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada got off to a rocky start.

Videgaray came to immigrant-friendly California for meetings with state officials in Sacramento and immigrant and business leaders in Los Angeles.

He also helped kick off a new office for mental health services inside Mexico's consulate in Los Angeles. Officials said the office will help overcome the stigma of seeking assistance with mental health problems and challenges faced by immigrants who lack legal papers.

Videgaray is expected to head to Washington for meetings on Wednesday.

California police chiefs drop opposition to sanctuary bill
California police chiefs drop opposition to sanctuary bill

SACRAMENTO (AP) — California police chiefs have dropped their opposition to a weakened "sanctuary state" bill that would restrict their interactions with immigration authorities, but sheriffs remained opposed Tuesday saying the measure would still limit their authority to work with federal officers in jails.

The bill was introduced in the aftermath of President Donald Trump's election as California Democrats looked to protect immigrants fearing the new Republican president would ramp up deportation. It was watered down on Monday to win support from Gov. Jerry Brown and is expected to be considered in the Legislature on Friday.

The legislative push comes as lawmakers and Brown look to spend $30 million on scholarships and legal assistance for young immigrants living illegally in the U.S. The state is also pursues two lawsuits against Trump over his decision to end a program that protects some young immigrants from deportation.

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon's SB54 originally would have strictly limited the authority for state and local law enforcement officers to cooperate and share information with immigration agents, stepping up statewide sanctuary for people living in the country illegally. It drew sharp condemnation from law-enforcement officials who warned that they'd be unable to work with federal authorities on task forces or ensure dangerous criminals were deported upon release from jail.

With changes announced Monday, it will now allow local officers to transfer immigrants to federal authorities if they've been convicted of one of some 800 crimes.

It's better, the sheriffs said, but still problematic.

"We're passing laws to not communicate with other governmental agencies and I just struggle with that," Kings County Sheriff David Robinson, a vocal critic of the bill, told The Associated Press. "I'm still adamantly opposed to the bill. It does nothing to protect immigrants, whether legal or illegal. It only protects criminals."

Immigration advocates generally applauded the latest version, even with DeLeon's concessions. For them, the bill delivers a rare victory during Trump's presidency, preserving some protections for people in the country illegally and adding others.

Police chiefs dropped their opposition because the final version will allow officers to collaborate with federal investigations while reaffirming that they "should not be used to assist in mass deportations," Gardena Police Chief Ed Medrano, president of the California Police Chiefs Association, said in a statement.

Sheriffs, however, held firm against the bill. Much of the bill's impact will now fall on jails, which are run by elected sheriffs who say they'll take the blame if they release someone who ends up committing another crime.

The final version prohibits law enforcement officials from asking about a person's immigration status or participating in immigration enforcement efforts. The bill prohibits law enforcement officials from being deputized as immigration agents or arresting people on civil immigration warrants.

"There's so much in this bill that prohibits us from doing stuff we already don't do," Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, another outspoken critic, said in a phone interview. "It's a horrible bill that is now made where it has a minimal impact on my county."

Cynthia Buiza, executive director of the California Immigrant Policy Center, acknowledged local law enforcement may already be following many of the bill's provisions but that it was significant to enshrine them in law.

"It's not perfect but there are some reassuring things," she said Tuesday. "This is a step in the right direction."

The new legislation will allow U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents access state law enforcement databases — something de Leon sought to prohibit in his original proposal.

Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said the bill was a "timely and important step" toward divorcing the state from immigration enforcement and "will serve to protect communities throughout California."

Police: Arrests made after gang-related fight at bar

HANFORD — Hanford Police officers responded to a possible gang-related fight with pool sticks this weekend at a local bar, officials said.

On Sunday at 11:55 p.m., Hanford Police officers said they responded to Huggy’s Bar, located in the 100 block of North Douty Street, for a report of a fight.

Officers said they were advised that subjects were fighting with pool sticks inside the bar.

As officers arrived on scene, they said a witness pointed to a Chevy Camaro leaving the scene and advised officers the suspects involved in the fight were inside the car.

Officers said they initiated a traffic stop on the suspect vehicle near Irwin and Sixth streets and contacted Ernesto Medina, 27, and Mark Valdivia, 36, inside the car.

Meanwhile, other officers responded to the bar and found one victim who had been assaulted.

According to police, the victim said he was a former gang member and Medina and Valdivia had attacked him while he drank a beer inside the bar.

The victim was hit with pool sticks and kicked and punched, sustaining large bruises to his face and head from the attack, police said.

Police said witness statements identified Medina and Valdivia as the suspects involved in the attack.

Due to the weapons used in the attack, the victim’s gang history, as well as the suspects’ gang history, officers said Medina and Valdivia were arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and committing the crime for the benefit of a criminal street gang.

Officials said Medina and Valdivia were transported and booked into the Kings County Jail.

Officers make DUI arrest, battery arrest at scene of traffic accident

HANFORD — A traffic collision led to one DUI arrest and another arrest for battery on a police officer, according to officials.

On Sunday at around 7:40 p.m., Hanford Police officers said they responded to a report of an injury traffic collision near the intersection of 11th Avenue and Davis Street.

Witnesses said one of the vehicles involved was trying to leave the scene of the accident.

Officers arrived and were only able to speak to one of the drivers. Another driver, Jonathan Collier, 24, came back to the scene after parking his vehicle down the street and out of traffic.

While talking to Collier, officers noticed he appeared to be under the influence of alcohol.

Officers said they performed field sobriety tests on Collier before arresting him on suspicion of felony DUI and being an unlicensed driver.

According to police, Collier is believed to have caused the collision by driving into the opposite lane of traffic while trying to turn westbound onto Davis Street from southbound 11th Avenue.

Officers investigating the collision found Collier's vehicle and began to process it for evidence.

As they were collecting evidence, police said a woman came running out of a nearby apartment and tried to stop them.

Tania Diaz-Herrera, 26, told officers the vehicle was hers. Officers said they believe she was intoxicated.

Officers told Diaz-Herrera to stand back, but she refused. She tried to lock the vehicle to halt their search and prevent the car from being towed.

Police said Diaz-Herrera fought with them and dug her nails into one officer’s arm, causing injury.

Officials said Diaz-Herrera was eventually subdued and booked into the Kings County Jail on suspicion of battery on a peace officer and resisting arrest.