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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.
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.
During the past week, Multi-American has been counting down the biggest and most influential immigration stories of 2011. That's not to say there were only five: It's been a major year for stories related to the immigration debate, especially as the battleground has shifted to the states, record deportations have continued, and the Obama administration's expansion of federal-local partnerships such as the Secure Communities fingerprint sharing program continues to draw controversy.
Stories that didn't make the list are also worth mentioning, among them the passage of state tuition-aid bills for undocumented students like the California Dream Act and the continued steep drop in illegal border crossings - even as illegal immigration remains a popular talking point for candidates seeking the presidency in 2012. Here are M-A's choices for top stories of the year.