Momentum for immigration reform heightens urgency of curbing deportations;
Sacramento – Today, the Public Safety Committee of the California Assembly approved the TRUST Act (AB 4 – Ammiano), a nationally-watched bill to limit harmful deportations often stemming from trivial or discriminatory arrests and to rebuild community confidence in local law enforcement. The bill has already sparked copies in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Florida.
Also today, the Asian Law Caucus, one of the bill’s sponsors, filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seeking to uncover information regarding ICE’s behind the scenes maneuvers last year which may have contributed to the bill’s veto in September 2012. Despite vetoing the bill, Governor Brown expressed agreement with its goals and pledged to advance a new version “forthwith.” To date, he has not shared specific proposals with the bill’s author or advocates.
Following today’s vote, hundreds of people proceeded to the office of Governor Jerry Brown, urging him to make good on his promise.Hector Nolasco, a Day Laborer facing deportation because his employer made a false accusation after Hector sought wages owed to him, was joined by Senator Kevin De León as he presented a formal meeting request. Faith and community leaders filled the halls from Los Angeles, Sonoma Co, San Francisco, Oakland, and beyond.
As The TRUST Act advances, federal immigration reform legislation is expected as soon as this week. The bill is poised to play a pivotal role in the national debate, as it ensures that California no longer facilitates the deportation of residents who could soon be on the road citizenship. In the words of Thomas A. Saénz, President and General Counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), today’s vote is “an important step toward ending the disruption that occurs daily of families, communities, and businesses” and “an important step in support of federal immigration reform.”
To date, 93,500 Californians have been deported under the discredited “Secure Communities” program – most with minor convictions or none at all.
Two communities members shared their stories at today’s hearing. Ruth Montaño was nearly deported over a trivial complaint that her dogs were barking too loudlyalso attended the hearing.
Jirayut “New” Latthivongskorn, a “DREAMEer” who is an alumnus of Sacramento’s Inderkum High School and UC Berkeley, also testified. Two years ago, New was the victim of a robbery at gun-point directly outside his Berkeley apartment. Despite wanting to contact police, he was unable to do so because of the threat of deportation caused by S-Comm.
The TRUST Act limits unfair, costly detentions of aspiring citizens in local jails for deportation purposes – people who would otherwise be released.
These wasteful detentions are often triggered by the “Secure” Communities deportation program. The program has come under fire for undermining trust between immigrant communities and local police, and burdening local governments.
Since the TRUST Act would have gone into effect, thousands of contributing members of California communities have been deported. Thus, the author and sponsors reintroduced the TRUST Act as AB 4 on the first day of the legislative session.
Under the current version of the bill, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “hold” requests to detain people for extra time would only be allowed for serious or violent felony convictions, as defined by existing law.
Authored by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-SF), AB 4’s principal co-authors are Senator Kevin De León (D-LA) and Assemblymembers Luis Alejo (D-Salinas) and V.M. Pérez (D-Coachella). The bill’s organizational sponsors are the Asian Law Caucus, National Day Laborer Organizing Network, California Immigrant Policy Center, ACLU of California, and MALDEF, and a vibrant network of community and faith organizations is advocating for the bill.