California Governor Jerry Brown had the chance this week to make California the anti-Arizona, a place where immigrants could count on and work with local police to fight crime. Instead, he chose to keep California on a path where tens of thousands of immigrants are deported each year for minor offenses like driving without a license, and afraid to have any contact at all with the police. The TRUST Act would have limited the damage that the Obama Administration’s “Secure Communities” program is having on communities in California. Had Gov. Brown signed the bill, he would have joined a distinguished list of governors who’ve challenged the program in their states, including Andrew Cuomo (NY), Deval Patrick (MA) and Pat Quinn (IL) along with big city mayors, such as Rahm Emanuel and Los Angeles’ own Antonio Villaraigosa.
California’s bill would have been the largest effort yet to repair the relationship of trust between police and members of the immigrant community. Instead, Brown has led his state in the direction of Arizona, where Gov. Jan Brewer is an enthusiastic supporter of that state’s infamous “show me your papers” law. The Arizona approach sanctions racial profiling and requires local cops to turn immigrants over to the federal government for deportation—destroying the trust between immigrants and local police that is essential to the success of community policing.
Brown ultimately caved to pressure from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, led by John Morton, which counts on California to meet the agency’s 400,000 person per year deportation quota—no matter the cost to the community. In a letter released earlier this month, ICE Director John Morton revealed his efforts to strong arm state and local governments who have stood up to Secure Communities, all the while praising the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a designated hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“Governor Brown had the opportunity to make California the anti-Arizona,” said Frank Sharry, America’s Voice Education Fund Executive Director. “Instead, he’s fallen in line with extremists like Jan Brewer and FAIR, helping ICE and John Morton fulfill his yearly deportation quotas. Governor Brown’s failure of leadership is disheartening. But so is the Obama Administration’s continued support for this deeply flawed program.”