California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed an immigration measure dubbed the "anti-Arizona" bill late on Sunday that would shield some illegal immigrants from federal status checks.
The bill would have prohibited local authorities from honoring federal detention requests, which may lead to deportation proceedings, on illegal immigrants unless those individuals were charged or convicted of a serious or violent felony.
Supporters said the measure would have served as a counterpoint for what they say is racial profiling inherent in an Arizona law that cracks down on illegal immigration that was allowed to stand by the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this summer.
In his veto message, Brown said that, while he supports comprehensive immigration reform, the bill was "fatally flawed" by exempted individuals who had committed crimes such as child abuse, drug trafficking and selling weapons.
"I believe it's unwise to interfere with a sheriff's discretion to comply with a detainer issued for people with those kinds of troubling criminal records," he said.
Brown's veto sparked ire among immigrant-rights groups who sponsored the measure and had been lobbying the governor to take a lenient stance toward illegal immigrants.
"Governor Brown has failed California's immigrant communities, imperiling civil rights and leaving us all less safe," Pablo Alvarado, executive director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, said in a statement.
If Brown had signed the bill, California would have stood apart not only from Arizona, but also Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah, which have all adopted strict laws in the past two years to try to discourage illegal immigrants from settling there.
California has the largest population of undocumented immigrants in the United States, with nearly 2.6 million at the start of 2010, according to government figures.
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