How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

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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Why did Brown veto the TRUST Act?

Ruxandra Guidi/KPCC

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.

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2 key immigration bills are pending on Brown's desk - will he sign?

Anibal Ortiz / KPCC

TRUST Act supporters marched near in the Men's Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles on Thursday, September 6, 2012. The bill would place restrictions on cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration agents. Gov. Jerry Brown has until Sunday to sign or veto it.

It's going on the end of the week, meaning there's a good chance that California Gov. Jerry Brown may wait until the bitter end to sign or veto two key state immigration bills with a Sunday signing deadline.

The two measures are the TRUST Act, which proposes placing limits on state and local cops' cooperation with federal immigration officials, a bill known as AB 2189, which would direct the state Department of Motor Vehicles to issue driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants who qualify for deferred action, a new federal policy allowing temporary legal status for young people who have been here since childhood.

Brown hasn't given any indication as to when he might make the call on either bill. But there seems to be a stronger chance he may approve the driver's license bill, sponsored by Los Angeles Democratic Assembly member Gil Cedillo. As for the TRUST Act, the tea leaves aren't so clear. 

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A list of immigration bills being considered in California

ca capitor

Photo by photologue_np/Flickr (Creative Commons)

The California State Capitol building, July 2011

California Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign or veto a controversial immigration bill, known as the TRUST Act, by the end of September. And it might not be the only state immigration bill that lands on Brown's desk in the near future.

Being considered are several other California immigration bills, among them a measure that would direct the state to grant driver's licenses to young undocumented immigrants who qualify for temporary legal status through the new federal policy known as deferred action. While California officials were already leaning toward granting licenses, state officials in Arizona and elsewhere have stated they don't plan to grant them to deferred action beneficiaries.

Here is a rundown of the California immigration bills:

AB 2189: Driver's licenses for deferred action recipients

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