How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

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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Prosecutorial discretion still a slow process, with relatively few cases closed

U.S. Immigration And Customs Officials Deport Undocumented El Salvadorians

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

A man is prepared for a deportation flight bound for El Salvador, December 2010

A review of deportation cases announced almost a year ago by the Obama administration is having limited success when it comes to weeding out and closing the cases of people eligible to stay in the country, let alone alleviating the backlog in the immigration courts.

According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as of July 20, there had been 7,186 deportation cases administratively closed nationwide as a result of prosecutorial discretion reviews that began late last year, with federal staff reviewing more than 350,000 cases.

Of these, about 6 percent have been identified as "provisionally eligible" for prosecutorial discretion, meaning this relatively small number of immigrants meet the criteria established that makes them a "low priority" for deportation. Included in the criteria: a clean record, close ties to the United States, having lived in the U.S. since childhood, having served in the military or being part of a military family, or having achieved or attempting a college education.

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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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ICE deportation reviews by the numbers, explained

The review of some 300,000 deportation cases in the nation's backlogged immigration courts recently led to some confusing headlines after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that about 16,500 pending cases would be temporarily put on hold, which some translated into these cases being "shelved."

But that's not exactly how it works. As the review process continues, there are no guarantees for those so far deemed eligible for relief. And even for the few spared removal to date, the future is uncertain.

Here's some of the recently released ICE data on the deportation reviews, followed by an explanation of what it means. From ICE:

• In total, ICE has reviewed 219,554 pending cases with approximately 16,544, or 7.5%, identified as amenable for prosecutorial discretion as of April 16, 2012.

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