The California Senate Public Safety Committee will decide Tuesday whether to limit how local law enforcement agencies can participate in the controversial federal immigration program, Secure Communities. If AB 1081, also known as the TRUST Act, passes it could be a significant blow to the federal program since over a quarter of S-Comm deportations are currently from California.
The hearing falls one week after Washington, DC became the latest in a string of local governments across the country to adopt policies similar to the TRUST Act and also comes days after the California Catholic Conference - which consists of all ten of the state’s Catholic Bishops - publicly announced its strong support of the bill.
The program has come under criticism for eroding trust between police and immigrant communities, with the fear of deportation and family separation making immigrant victims and witnesses to crimes reluctant to come forward.
Under the program, the fingerprints of everyone arrested - even survivors of domestic violence arrested with their abusers - are automatically sent to ICE.
“Unlikely allies are lining up behind this bill because ICE misled the public about S-Comm, whose real focus is more spin than safety,” Ammiano said in a press release when Assemblymember Tom Ammiano introduced the bill. “In fact, seven in ten Californians deported under S-Comm had committed no crime or were picked up for minor offenses like traffic violations. The program is ruining trust between immigrant communities and the police. But here in California, we can do better. This bill is a practical solution that lets local governments have a say and restores some balance to this dysfunctional system.”
As of March 31, more than 70,330 people were deported from California under the program. Nearly seven in 10 of those deported did not fall into Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE’s) most serious category.
Last year, a report by UC Berkeley’s Warren Institute estimated that nationwide, some 3,600 US Citizens were apprehended by ICE due to S-Comm since the program’s start and also found S-Comm was disproportionately targeting Latinos.