Politics, government and public life for Southern California

CA bill to limit immigration detentions clears key committee

OC Immigrant Detention

Jae C. Hong/AP

An Orange County Sheriff's deputy keeps a watch over a group of immigration detainees in the medical and dental care area at the Theo Lacy Facility in Orange, Calif., Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2010.

A California lawmaker is reviving an effort to change how local authorities respond when federal immigration officials request custody of a detainee.  

Governor Brown vetoed the so-called Trust Act last year because he said it prevented law enforcement from detaining certain violent criminals. 

A new version of the bill cleared its first committee Tuesday and is heading for a full Assembly vote as soon as next week.

The federal Secure Communities Program requires local law enforcement agencies to report all arrests to federal immigration officials.  If immigration officials suspect a detainee is here illegally, they can ask local agencies to keep them in custody.  
 
Rosa Aqeel of the faith-based advocacy group, PICO California, says the law is supposed to help detain and deport dangerous criminals, but that’s not how it has worked.
 
"What’s happened in actuality is that the program has swept up everybody and anyone that comes into contact with law enforcement," Aqeel said, "including someone who gets pulled over for a broken taillight, or a victim of domestic violence who reports the crime."

Immigration advocates claim that most people deported under Secure Communities lacked criminal convictions or were never charged with crimes.  

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-SF) has introduced a bill to modify how the law is applied in California. Assembly Bill 4 would ban law enforcement from using immigration holds on people arrested for minor crimes and who lack a serious criminal history.

The law would go beyond a directive from state Attorney General Kamala Harris, who has told local agencies to use their own discretion with requests from federal authorities.  
 
When Gov. Brown vetoed near identical legislation last year, he said he was willing to work on a solution. Assemblyman Ammiano has asked the administration to suggest amendments.


 

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