About a dozen protesters -- some of them said by activists to be undocumented immigrants -- are staging a sit-in this afternoon in Gov. Jerry Brown's office to lobby him on an immigration bill, prompting law enforcement officials to block the door to his reception area at the Capitol.
At issue is legislation that would prevent local police from detaining people based on immigration status unless they have been convicted of a felony or serious crime.
Assembly Bill 4, by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, was being considered in a legislative committee as the protesters began their demonstration about noon. It is an expanded version of legislation Brown vetoed last year.
In his veto message, the Democratic governor said that the legislation failed to allow the detention of a person accused of some serious crimes, including child abuse and illegal weapon sales.
"The significant flaws in this bill can be fixed, and I will work with the Legislature to see that the bill is corrected forthwith," Brown said in the veto message.
Luis Serrano, of the Immigrant Youth Coalition of Los Angeles, said the protesters are from Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, the Inland Empire and San Diego. He said they came from San Diego to the Capitol by van. He said most, if not all, of the protesters are undocumented immigrants.
"They're not leaving until the governor meets with them," Serrano said.
Serrano said the protesters have been told they may remain inside Brown's reception area until 6 p.m., when the office closes.
Asked if they would leave or be arrested at that time, he noted the earliness of the hour and said, "They have a long way."
Four California Highway Patrol officers blocked the door to Brown's reception area, allowing employees in and out but declining to let reporters inside.
Brown spokesman Evan Westrup said in an email that the administration is "continuing to work constructively with the author and other stakeholders on this important bill."