Multi-American

How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

California's 'anti-Arizona' TRUST Act is back for another round

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Two months after California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill known as the TRUST Act "as written," a lawmaker is reintroducing it in the Assembly.

Bill sponsor Tom Ammiano, a Democratic Assembly member from the Bay Area, announced Monday that he's bringing back a reworked "3.0" version of the bill. It aims to limit state and local cops' cooperation with federal immigration agents. While it differs from the earlier amended version Brown had vetoed, it's closer in ways to the original bill the legislature voted on in 2011.

The idea of the measure, dubbed earlier this year as the "anti-Arizona bill," is to set limits on who California state and local authorities can hold for deportation at the behest of federal immigration authorites, restricting it to only those with serious criminal convictions on their records.

The TRUST Act (an acronym for "Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools") is intended to limit the state's participation in Secure Communities, a federal program that allows local law enforcement agencies to share the fingerprints of people booked in their jurisdictions with immigration officials. Critics of the program have complained that this lands too many minor  offenders and non-offenders in deportation proceedings, contrary to the Obama administration's stated goal of focusing on serious offenders for removal.

One key way in which the bill differs from AB 1081, the version vetoed by Brown, is that there is no longer language allowing immigration holds for individuals not convicted of serious crimes, but who are in custody for serious criminal charges. Ammiano spokesman Carlos Alcala said this language was added as the original bill evolved. A component  from older versions that's also missing is language requiring law enforcement agencies to set up plans for preventing racial profiling, something that critics of the bill had argued would burden agencies with extra work.

The gist of the bill remains the same. From a draft of the latest version:

7282.5. (a) A law enforcement official has the discretion to detain an individual on the basis of an immigration hold after that individual becomes eligible for release from criminal csutody, only if both of the following conditions are satisfied:

(1) The individual has been convicted of a serious or violent felony according to a criminal background check or documentation provided to the law enforcement official by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

(2) The continued detention of the individual on the basis of the immigration hold would not violate any federal, state or local law, or any local policy.

(b) If either of the conditions set forth set forth in subdivision (a) is not satisfied, an individual shall not be detained on the basis of an immigration hold after that individual becomes eligible for release from criminal custody.

In his veto statement dated Sept. 30, Gov. Brown said he was "unable to sign this bill as written." Brown added that:

Unfortunately, the list of offenses codified in the bill is fatally flawed because it omits many serious crimes. For example, the bill would bar local cooperation even when the person arrested has been convicted of certain crimes involving child abuse, drug trafficking, selling weapons, using children to sell drugs, or gangs. I believe it's unwise to interfere with a sheriff's discretion to comply with a detainer issued for people with these kinds of troubling criminal records.

Alcala said the assemblyman hopes the idea of reverting to earlier language will spur discussion with the governor's office. 

"We haven't been able to sit down with the governor or the governor's policy staff to work out what they want," Alcala said by phone. " So we are starting with what we think is best, then we will work toward an agreement." 

He said plans are to introduce the reworked bill late Monday.

Read more about the TRUST Act and Secure Communities here.

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