How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

2 key immigration bills are pending on Brown's desk - will he sign?

Anibal Ortiz / KPCC

TRUST Act supporters marched near in the Men's Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles on Thursday, September 6, 2012. The bill would place restrictions on cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration agents. Gov. Jerry Brown has until Sunday to sign or veto it.

It's going on the end of the week, meaning there's a good chance that California Gov. Jerry Brown may wait until the bitter end to sign or veto two key state immigration bills with a Sunday signing deadline.

The two measures are the TRUST Act, which proposes placing limits on state and local cops' cooperation with federal immigration officials, a bill known as AB 2189, which would direct the state Department of Motor Vehicles to issue driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants who qualify for deferred action, a new federal policy allowing temporary legal status for young people who have been here since childhood.

Brown hasn't given any indication as to when he might make the call on either bill. But there seems to be a stronger chance he may approve the driver's license bill, sponsored by Los Angeles Democratic Assembly member Gil Cedillo. As for the TRUST Act, the tea leaves aren't so clear. 

Sponsored by Assembly member Tom Ammiano, a Bay Area Democrat, , the TRUST Act proposes restricting who local cops can hold for deportation at the request of immigration agents, limiting it to those who have been convicted of felonies and other serious crimes.

As it works now, immigrants with and without criminal records are held for deportation locally under the federal Secure Communities program, which allows the fingerprints of people taken at local law enforcement facilities to be shared with Homeland Security. If there is an immigration records match and the person is deemed deportable, the individual is placed on a deportation hold for federal agents. 

Brown has signed immigrant-friendly bills like the California Dream Act, a pair of measures he approved last year that make it easier for undocumented college students to obtain financial aid for tuition. But some immigrant rights advocates fear that Brown may sign only one of the two pending bills, that being the least controversial one, AB 2189.

The TRUST Act is more contentious. Although some law enforcement officials in California have come out against it, several California sheriffs have resisted the very idea of such restrictions, vowing to continue enforcing the federal policy regardless of whether Brown vetoes or signs. Among the vocal opponents of the TRUST Act is Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca.

Meanwhile, there's pressure from immigrant advocates and others for Brown to sign; the New York Times joined the fray this week with an opinion piece urging Brown's approval. While the TRUST Act would be the first measure of its kind at the state level, it would not be the first locally. In Chicago, for example, mayor Rahm Emanuel recently unveiled a "Welcome City" ordinance that places similar restrictions on who local authorities can detain for immigration officials.

Whichever way Brown goes on either bill, those waiting for a decision will have to be patient.

"We don't know," said Conrado Terrazas, a spokesman for AB 2189 sponsor Cedillo. "He has until Sept 30th." 

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