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California's Trust Act Seeks to Counteract Damage Caused by Secure Communities and Arizona Approach

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At America’s Voice Education Fund, we have been strong critics of Secure Communities, the Obama Administration’s signature immigration enforcement program. We’ve noted that it’s difficult to distinguish the difference between Arizona’s draconian SB 1070 and the Obama administration’s tactics under Secure Communities. That’s how bad it is.

The Secure Communities program is now active in 97 % of the country and next week the Supreme Court will rule on whether Arizona will be able to turn local cops into immigration agents in that state.

California wants to take a different approach. California legislators, led by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, have crafted a legislative solution – the TRUST Act — to address the problems caused by the federal program and restore much needed trust between police and the immigrant community.

Today, The New York Times offered a strong endorsement of the Trust Act:

Sponsored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano of San Francisco, the bill would require local police departments to release people who have been arrested once their bond is posted or their sentence is up as long as they have no serious convictions and even if federal officials have issued a detainer.

California is hardly going rogue as states like Arizona and Alabama have. Unlike them, it has not drafted laws starkly opposed to federal immigration priorities, to harass the innocent and encourage racial profiling.

On the contrary, the bill has been endorsed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, the police chiefs of Oakland and Palo Alto, California’s Catholic bishops and a wide cross-section of other city governments, police officials and immigrant-rights organizations.

The bill would enhance the ability of local departments to fight crime by restoring community trust and saving jail space for serious offenders. It deserves to become law.

Last year, the Trust Act passed in the Assembly. Now, it’s moving through the California State Senate. From NDLON,

[On  June 15, 2012], by a vote of 5 to 2, the California State Senate’s Public Safety Committee approved the new version of the TRUST Act (AB 1081 – Ammiano). The bill would reform California’s participation in the discredited “Secure” Communities deportation program – which has faced severe criticism for undermining public safety and burdening local governments – by limiting the unfair, extended detention of immigrants in local jails for deportation. Details are available below. The bill now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.

The committee heard powerful testimony from Blanca Perez, a Los Angeles mother facing deportation due to an arrest last year for selling ice cream on the street who urged the state to set an example for the rest of the country with the passage of the bill. “Immigrants in Alabama and Arizona are afraid today, but as my experience tells us, immigrants in Los Angeles, here in Sacramento and even in San Francisco, have reason to be afraid as well,” Ms. Perez told the committee.

“Blanca’s story confirms that ICE’s priorities are stunningly out-of-whack,” said Assemblymember Tom Ammiano. “This is something I’d expect in Arizona, not in Los Angeles. Persecuting this courageous, hard-working mom for selling ice cream on the street is a ridiculous waste of resources. Today’s vote recognizes that S-Comm is sabotaging our public safety. The TRUST Act is the solution we need to begin rebuilding the confidence that our local law enforcement worked so hard to build, but that ICE has shattered.”