How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Will California opt out of Secure Communities, and can it?

Art by José Luís Agapito/Flickr (Creative Commons)

The California Assembly passed a bill 43-22 today that challenges the embattled federal immigration enforcement program known as Secure Communities. If the bill becomes law, it would allow the state to renegotiate its contract with the Homeland Security department, allowing local jurisdictions to opt out of what is now a mandatory fingerprint-sharing program. The state could choose to opt out altogether as well.

The bill, which now goes on to the senate, has been dubbed the Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools Act, or “TRUST Act.”

The text of the California bill was posted on Multi-American late last month. Shortly afterward, the governor of Illinois announced plans to withdraw the state from the program. His decision was challenged by Department of Homeland Security officials, who said the department would not allow Illinois law enforcement to opt out of sharing information with immigration authorities.


What is the TRUST Act? The bill that would make Secure Communities optional in California

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

A California state bill heard in Sacramento today that challenges the embattled federal immigration enforcement program known as Secure Communities has cleared a public safety committee vote. If it eventually becomes law, the bill would make the participation of local law enforcement in the fingerprint-sharing program optional, removing California counties from the mandatory program temporarily, then allowing them to rejoin voluntarily. The bill has been dubbed the Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools Act, or "TRUST Act."

From the text of AB 1081, introduced earlier this year by Assembly member Tom Ammiano, a Bay Area Democrat, and amended two weeks ago:

Existing law, setting forth the findings and declarations of the

Legislature, provides that all protections, rights, and remedies

available under state law, except any reinstatement remedy prohibited

by federal law, are available to all individuals regardless of

immigration status who have applied for employment, or who are or who

have been employed, within the state, and further provides that, for

purposes of enforcing specified state laws, a person's immigration

status is irrelevant to the issue of liability, and prohibits, in

proceedings or discovery undertaken to enforce those state laws, an

inquiry into a person's immigration status except where the person

seeking to make the inquiry has shown by clear and convincing

evidence that the inquiry is necessary in order to comply with

federal immigration law.

This bill would state the findings and declarations of the

Legislature with respect to a memorandum of agreement with the United

States Department of Homeland Security, regarding the implementation

of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Secure Communities

program, that the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Information

within the Department of Justice entered into on May 8

April 10 , 2009.

The bill would require the

bureau to modify that agreement, according to specified requirements,

or to exercise its authority under the agreement to terminate the