Today, the State Assembly's Public Safety Committee passed on to the full assembly AB 1081, also known as the TRUST Act. The bill, sponsored by San Francisco's Tom Ammiano, would give local governments the right to opt-out of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's controversial Secure Communities program.
Immigrant rights groups say the program has resulted in increased deportation of immigrants who had committed no crime or were picked up by police for minor offenses.
California Watch explains the process and repercussions:
At the heart of Secure Communities is a database that allows local police to check inmates’ legal status by running their fingerprints. When the system makes a match, officers learn a suspect’s entire documented immigration history. They also learn whether ICE wants to place a “hold” on the suspect, which requires the police agency to detain the individual until immigration agents can take custody.
To supporters of increased local immigration enforcement, the program is nothing more than a database at the jails, and does not encourage profiling.
Though still new, Secure Communities helped catch many thousands of illegal immigrants across California.
Since 2009, local law enforcement in California has turned over 71,918 illegal immigrants to ICE through the program, according to federal data. Of those, 35,643 were removed from the United States.
San Francisco Sheriff Michael Hennessy, a critic of the program, testified at the hearing that the city was originally told it could opt out before being told it couldn't. Today's Bay Citizen reports that conflicting information on the legality of opting out was sent in hundreds of emails from ICE staff to local law enforcement.
Yesterday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said that local governments cannot "exclude themselves" from the program.
- Editorial: Immigration Bait and Switch (NY Times)