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An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), officer prepares an undocumented Salvadorian immigrant for a deportation flight bound for San Salvador.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is responding to state and local leaders' recent efforts to cut down on the number of immigrants held for deportation by issuing its own set of guidelines for what are known as "immigration detainers," released Friday.
But despite reports of a recent dropoff in deporation cases at the court level, the Obama adminstation has continued to deport record numbers of people, at least through fiscal year 2012. During that time, immigration authorities removed more than 409,000 people.
State or local law enforcement places immigration detainers, or holds, on individuals if that person is deemed deportable. The holds are standard practice in the enforcement of Secure Communities, a federal program that allows peace officers to share the fingerprints of people booked at local facilities with Homeland Security. If there is a match, the local agency is asked to hold the person for deportation by immigration officials.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has been a willing participant in the federal government's Secure Communities program.
California's state and local law enforcement agencies can choose whether to place immigration holds on individuals at the request of federal agents, the state's attorney general has advised.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris issued this guidance to law enforcement agencies Tuesday, adding yet another wrinkle to the long-running debate over how much local agencies are required to cooperate with the federal government on immigration enforcement.
At issue is Secure Communities, a federal enforcement program that allows the fingerprints of people booked into local facilities to be shared with immigration officials. If there is a match, local officers are requested to hold that individual for possible deportation on behalf of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The person is placed on a federal immigration hold, called a detainer.
Anibal Ortiz / KPCC
A crowd of TRUST Act supporters marched near in the Men's Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles on September 6, 2012, before California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the bill.
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.
Supporters of the TRUST Act rally outside Central Men's Jail in downtown Los Angeles.
After a California bill that would have limited how state and local police cooperate with federal immigration officials was vetoed last night by Gov. Jerry Brown, the focus has now shifted to why.
Yesterday was the deadline for Brown to sign or veto a host of bills, among them two key immigration measures. One was known as AB 2189, which directs the state Department of Motor Vehicles to allow young undocumented immigrants who receive temporary legal status under a new federal program to obtain California driver's licenses.
The other was known as the TRUST Act, a bill sponsored by Bay Area Democratic Assembly member Tom Ammiano that proposed restricting who state and local cops can hold for immigration officials, limiting it to just those with felony convictions or other specified serious offenses. The measure was intended to work around the federal Secure Communities program, which allows for fingerprints of people booked at local law enforcement facilities to be shared with Homeland Security.
A lawsuit filed today against top Homeland Security officials by immigration agents opposed to deferred action, which promises to grant temporary legal status to some young undocumented immigrants, has the support of high-profile immigration restriction advocates.
SB 1070 legal author and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is representing a handful of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents led by Chris Crane, president of the ICE agents' union, in a lawsuit alleging that the new Obama administration policy directs ICE agents to violate federal immigration laws or face consequences on the job. Legal costs are being paid by NumbersUSA, an immigration restriction advocacy group in Arlington, Virginia.
It's not the first time the ICE union has complained about recent Obama administration immigration policies that aren't tied to enforcement, but rather offer leniency to some otherwise deportable immigrants. Earlier this year, the agents' union protested the administration's implementation of prosecutorial discretion guidelines aimed at weeding out non-criminal immigrants who might be spared from deportation.