How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

What exactly does the TRUST Act do?

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A Los Angeles County prisoner bus, June 2009.

A measure approved by the California Senate yesterday that some have nicknamed the "anti-Arizona" bill has made headlines today. But some of these have been more confusing than others, so it's time for a brief dissection of what's known as the TRUST Act.

In a nutshell, what the bill does is propose restrictions on the cooperation between local/state law enforcement agencies and federal immigration agents, with its intended goal to shrink the net cast by the federal Secure Communities program. Local and state officers in California would only be able to hold immigrants convicted of felonies and other serious crimes for immigration agents, as opposed to how it works now, where anyone can be held.

What the bill doesn't quite do is "override" Secure Communities, an enforcement program that allows fingerprints of people booked by local and state cops to be shared with immigration agents. Nor does it create a sanctuary state for undocumented immigrants who lack serious criminal records in the sense they might have any sort of protection from the law. Nor does it, beyond the nickname, have anything to do with Arizona.

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California's 'anti-Arizona' bill clears state Senate

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A California measure dubbed by some as the "anti-Arizona" bill cleared the state Senate this afternoon by a vote of 21-13. Better known as TRUST Act, the bill proposes restricting who it is that law enforcement agencies can hold for deportation at the request of immigration officials.

The bill now heads to the Assembly - which passed a previous version last year - for a concurrence vote on its way to the governor's office.

A heavily amended version of the original approved last year, the measure proposes that local and state law enforcement officers in California only be allowed to hold immigrants with violent or otherwise serious criminal convictions for immigration officers.

The TRUST Act has somewhat of a roundabout history. About this time last year, the original bill (the acronym stands for “Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools”) was moving through the statehouse. That version aimed to make optional California counties' and cities’ participation in the Secure Communities immigration enforcement program, which allows the fingerprints of people booked by local cops to be shared with immigration officials.

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Emails illustrate how non-criminals can get caught up in Secure Communities

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A series of newly released emails between California and federal officials from last year adds more fuel to the debate over the arrests of non-criminal immigrants under Secure Communities. The federal immigration enforcement program allows the fingerprints of people booked by local police to be shared with immigration officials.

Since not long after its inception in 2008, Secure Communities has been under fire from immigrant advocates, state and local officials in several states, and some law enforcement. Critics complain that the program casts too wide of a net. While its stated goal is to arrest immigrants with serious criminal records for deportation, the program has landed many people who had no convictions or only minor ones in removal proceedings.

Immigrants fingerprinted following traffic stops are at issue in the emails, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by immigrant rights advocates and the immigration clinic of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at New York's Yeshiva University. The emails detail a back-and forth between federal and California Department of Justice officials, who ask if it's possible not to send data on non-criminals stopped at license checkpoints to Homeland Security.

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Trust Act 2.0: Will California say no to cops holding immigrants for ICE?

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California legislators are moving in that direction, at least. A state Senate committee has approved a bill dubbed TRUST Act 2.0, which proposes restricting who it is that law enforcement agencies can hold for deportation at the request of immigration officials.

The bill, which was approved 5-2 today in the Senate Public Safety Committee, has a roundabout history: About this time last year, the original TRUST Act (the acronym stands for "Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools") was moving through the statehouse. Back then, the bill aimed to make optional California counties and cities’ participation in the Secure Communities immigration enforcement program.

The controversial program was first rolled out by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2008. It allows the fingerprints of people booked at local jails to be shared with immigration officials. If there is a records match, local authorities must hold the person for ICE and pending removal. Critics say it casts too wide of a net, landing some who haven't committed a crime in deportation.

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'TRUST Act 2.0': Amended CA bill would only let cops hold convicted criminals for ICE

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A year ago, a bill was moving through the California state legislature that aimed to make optional counties and cities' participation in the controversial Secure Communities immigration enforcement program.

At the time, California was one of several states in which some state and law enforcement officials had come out against the federal program, which allows the fingerprints of people booked at local jails to be shared with immigration officials.

The bill was rendered moot last August, after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement rescinded state agreements with the agency allowing Secure Communities to operate. The decision essentially made the program mandatory, leaving states no choice but to go along.

As a counter to that, the same California lawmaker behind last year's bill is now pushing an alternative dubbed TRUST Act 2.0. The idea is for local agencies to work with ICE as mandated, but only to a point, since the bill proposes restricting who it is that law enforcement agencies can hold for deportation at the request of ICE.

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