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Immigration Trust Act may relieve deportation surge in California

On Behalf of | Sep 11, 2013 | Family Immigration

The Trust Act is all about a lack of trust between the state and federal governments. The California Senate recently passed the Trust Act and, after another review by the house, the controversial immigration legislation will go to Governor Jerry Brown for signature. It’s not definite that he’ll sign it because he vetoed it last year. The Act would restrict local police from detaining undocumented immigrants without serious criminal records on behalf of federal immigration authorities.

The veto last year was based on Brown’s feeling that too many crimes were left out as not being “serious” under the bill. It’s expected that much of that concern was corrected in the new bill that will go to Brown. However, Brown has not yet declared his backing or opposition this time around.

The bill is a reaction to the “Secure Communities” enforcement program under which federal agencies identify undocumented immigrants detained by local law enforcement by sharing fingerprints and other data. The program had led to almost 80,000 deportations in California according to press reports. The program is part and parcel to President Obama’s policy of ramping up deportation since 2008.

The administration has been expelling about 400,000 people per year, without in many cases giving them an opportunity to present a deportation defense. Administration officials view Secure Communities as a way to focus on deporting people with serious criminal records merely by identifying them through questionable procedures and deporting them without further ado. Opponents say that the program ensnares many non-criminals or low-level offenders, undermines trust between immigrant communities and police, and makes the state pay the bill for locking people up.

The Act also raises due process questions about the use of immigration detainers in California. ICE uses these to ask local police to hold suspected deportable immigrants. The detainers, however, do not comply with findings of probable cause or even reasonable suspicion, and are so flawed that at times they’ve been placed on United States citizens as well as immigrants who have a valid deportation defense.

Source: Huffington Post, Trust Act Passes California Senate, But Will Jerry Brown Sign It? (UPDATED), Roque Planas, Sept. 10, 2013