Assemblyman Tom Ammiano will soon introduce a bill into California’s state Assembly that would attempt to counter the Secure Communities program run by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Under the Secure Communities program, law enforcement officers must forward the fingerprints of everyone arrested to immigration authorities.
If those federal authorities then discover an arrestee entered the country without permission, the local law enforcement officers are instructed to delay the arrestee’s release so that ICE can take custody and initiate deportation proceedings. Many who have been arrested by ICE are either low-level offenders or have never before convicted of a crime at all.
The proposed bill would instruct local law enforcement to not cooperate with many requests of detainers. Assemblyman Ammiano will likely introduce the bill this spring. An earlier bill, known as the Trust Act, passed the state Assembly in 2011. That bill amended the agreement California had with ICE, allowing local authorities to opt out of Secure Communities.
However, ICE recently changed the Secure Communities program by making only one agreement nationwide and ending agreements with individual states, rendering the bill irrelevant.
ICE has sent a letter to Mr. Ammiano stating that the new proposed legislation may violate federal law, but he remains undeterred. Proponents of the bill argue that the new amendment is a more fair solution for undocumented immigrants, while also freeing up local law enforcement from the undue burden of chasing low-level offenders.
If it passes, the bill could limit the amount of time an arrested undocumented immigrant spends in a detention facility, putting it on par with what arrested U.S. citizens experience in the same situation.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “California bill seeks to limit detention of arrestees facing deportation,” Paloma Esquivel, Jan. 28, 2012