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From Prop 187 to the TRUST Act — California Comes a Long Way, Models Smart Immigration Enforcement

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the TRUST ActYesterday, California took a key step in positioning itself as the “anti-Arizona” on immigration enforcement, with the state Senate passing a bill that would restore common sense to states’ approach on immigration. Ironically, California was the first state to embrace an extremist approach to immigration with the passage of Proposition 187 in 1994. Fortunately, the state has now come full circle and is breaking new ground by passing what we see as the “anti”- Prop 187 and “anti”-SB 1070: the TRUST Act.

The TRUST Act passed the California Senate with a 21-13 vote, moving the bill to the State Assembly, where it is also expected to pass. As the Los Angeles Times explains, the TRUST Act would:

prohibit police and sheriff’s officials from detaining arrestees for possible deportation unless the suspects have previous convictions for a serious or violent felony. The measure is aimed at blunting federal immigration enforcement, in particular the Secure Communities program, under which fingerprints of arrestees are shared with immigration officials who issue hold orders.

The federal “Secure Communities” program was created to target serious criminal offenders, but has been widely criticized by elected officials, law enforcement and others for sweeping up tens of thousands of immigrants without criminal records and destroying immigrants’ relationship with the police. That is why the California legislature—and, hopefully, soon the Governor—is taking concrete steps to address this with the TRUST Act.

The California approach stands in stark contrast to the SB 1070 law passed by neighboring Arizona, a law that continues to be mired in controversy and legal challenges. While the TRUST Act’s goal is to bring balance to immigration enforcement, SB 1070’s goal is to make every immigrant a law enforcement “priority.” Basically, it’s the difference between support for community policing and the creation of a police state.

Arizona is already ground zero for profiling and harassment of people “perceived to be immigrants,” and the federal government is certainly doing its part. The Border Patrol’s recent treatment of former Arizona Governor Raul Castro—who was stopped and held in 100 degree heat while traveling to celebrate his 96th birthday—is just the most recent example of how “checkpoint” culture has invaded the southwest and turned even the most patriotic of Americans into suspects. As Alessandra Soler, Executive Director of ACLU of Arizona stated:

This happens all the time in terms of these types of indiscriminate stops of individuals not suspected of any wrongdoing…I think most people would agree that subjecting a 96-year-old man to secondary screening does little to secure our borders and a man who had just informed them that he had undergone this medical procedure.

In fact, this wasn’t even the first time Governor Castro was subjected to harassment by the Border Patrol, and it’s a clear indication that Arizona remains the Wild West, while California is striking out on a decidedly different path.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director, America’s Voice Education Fund:

The rapid expansion of federal immigration enforcement capacity and authority has helped foster a climate of impunity and excess, as the detention of former Gov. Castro demonstrates. That’s why California’s TRUST Act is such a welcome and sensible step forward. By taking smart steps to restore immigration enforcement priorities, California’s TRUST Act is the antidote to Arizona immigration policy excesses. We hope and expect Governor Brown to sign the TRUST Act into law, sending a strong signal that California has learned from, and moved beyond, its Proposition 187 past.

Cross-posted at Calitics and Daily Kos.