Standoff Looms if Brown Signs TRUST Immigration Bill

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The TRUST Act, known to some as the Anti-Arizona Act, is favored by the state Legislature, opposed by the federal government and splitting the ranks of local law enforcement.

The legislation cleared the Assembly Friday after some changes in the state Senate and now it’s up to Governor Jerry Brown whether California will prohibit police from detaining person on an immigration hold if they are not charged with or convicted of a serious or violent crime.

The law would impede the cooperation of local authorities to cooperate completely with Secure Communities, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program implemented in 2009 that is meant to weed out illegal immigrants. Essentially, Assembly Bill 1081 would require law enforcement to ignore requests from ICE to hold immigrants it wouldn’t otherwise hold.

ICE agents make those requests after receiving fingerprints of arrestees. They can ask for a two-day hold, but typically take three weeks to make a decision. That cost Los Angeles County $26 million last year, and impacts budget-stressed localities throughout the state. The cost of time and money has prompted support among some law enforcement agencies, but not from the California State Sheriff’s Association.

L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca wrote a letter in July to AB 1981 author Assemblyman Tom Ammiano indicating that he felt the law was in conflict with federal statutes and that he would “most likely” not enforce it. Commissioners in Cook County, Illinois, which encompasses unincorporated areas around Chicago, voted to scale back cooperation with Secure Communities last year and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said last month he wants the city to join them.

The Obama administration has pushed the program strongly, and Alabama is the only state besides Illinois that has not implemented it statewide.

The law would place California in the middle of a nationwide debate over immigration policy. Secure Communities deported around 400,000 undocumented immigrants last year and, not unexpectedly, is vehemently opposed by immigrant organizations.

Governor Brown supported Secure Communities when he was attorney general.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

California OKs Bill Shielding Undocumented Immigrants (by Matthai Kuruvila, San Francisco Chronicle)

TRUST Act to Limit Secure Communities Heads to California Governor (by Elise Foley, Huffington Post)

Sheriff Baca May Defy Proposed Law Easing Immigration Enforcement (by Cindy Chang, Los Angeles Times)

L.A. Sheriff Lee Baca Writes Angry Letter to NorCal Assemblyman Who Authored Pro-Immigrant TRUST Act (by Simone Wilson, LA Weekly)

Obama Policy on Immigrants Is Challenged by Chicago (by Julia Preston and Steven Yaccino, New York Times)

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