How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

ICE announces 'immigration hold' guidelines while hitting new deportation record

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John Moore/Getty Images

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.

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California AG to police: Detaining undocumented immigrants 'not compulsory'

Men's Central Jail

Corey Bridwell/KPCC

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.

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

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.

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California's 'anti-Arizona' immigration bill on way to governor's desk

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Art by José Luís Agapito/Flickr (Creative Commons)


A California bill that would limit the extent to which local and state cops cooperate with federal immigration officials is on its way to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk after clearing a final Assembly vote.

Approved in June by the state Senate, the measure nicknamed the “anti-Arizona” bill cleared an Assembly concurrence vote this morning 48-26. Better known as the TRUST Act (it stands for “Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools”), it has nothing to do with Arizona, but here is what the bill proposes for California:

This bill would prohibit a law enforcement official, as defined, from detaining an individual on the basis of a United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement hold after that individual becomes eligible for release from criminal custody, unless the local agency adopts a plan that meets certain requirements prior to or after compliance with the immigration hold, and, at the time that the individual becomes eligible for release from criminal custody, certain conditions are met.

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Secure Communities: How much latitude do states have?

The back-and-forth between the federal government and states over the federal Secure Communities immigration enforcement program goes back a long way, with controversy and confusion that began brewing shortly after the program first began rolling out in late 2008.

First there was confusion over the voluntary-vs.-mandatory nature of the program, through which the fingerprints of people booked by local and state cops are entered into a database that allows them to be shared not only with the FBI, but with immigration officials. Next, after several state and local leaders tried to withdraw, fearing Secure Communities might impede policing, the federal government asserted the program was mandatory. State contracts that implied otherwise were rescinded by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement director John Morton last August.

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