Gov. Brown signs TRUST Act Citing Congress’s ‘Waffling’ on Immigration Reform

The ACLU of California applauds Governor Brown for signing AB 4, the TRUST Act, a bill that creates a clear standard for when local law enforcement will respond to federal immigration requests of local law enforcement to share fingerprints of anyone they arrest with immigration authorities. This policy results from a federal program called “Secure Communities,” (S-Comm) that often leads to the detention of immigrants in local jails solely based on their immigration status. This undermines due process and has resulted in decreased trust between immigrant communities and local law enforcement.

The TRUST Act, AB4, a bill authored by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, will enhance school, workplace, and civil protections for California’s hard-working immigrant community.

“The TRUST Act will make all Californians safer. When local law enforcement jails members of our community solely on the basis on their immigration status, trust is undermined” said Norma Chavez-Peterson, executive director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. “This bill allows victims to report crimes with confidence, police to solve tough cases, and sheriffs to use scarce jail space more wisely.”

“The ACLU has seen the impact of S-Comm on California families and communities as over 100,000 immigrants have been deported through this program in our state alone. The TRUST Act will help to ensure that every Californian is afforded due process and not subjected to unlawful prolonged detention on the basis of their immigration status,” said Hector Villagra, executive director of the ACLU of Southern California.

The ACLU of California has worked with a number of individuals throughout the state who were mistreated because of immigration detainer requests:

  • CHP officers arrested a woman named Perla, a U.S. citizen born in Mexico, for a traffic infraction. Perla was held in the local jail on an ICE detainer for three days before immigration officials instructed the sheriff to release her, citing an error in “the database” as the cause for her immigration hold.
  • This also includes the unconstitutional three month detention acclaimed British film director Duncan Roy while he was awaiting trial in Los Angeles County.  County officials would not allow him to post his bail, in violation of state and federal law, based solely on an immigration detainer request.
  • LAPD officers responded to an emergency call from Isaura Garcia when her boyfriend became violent, but arrested her instead of him and placed her in deportation proceedings.
  • In Bakersfield, Ruth Montano, a farmworker and mother of three, was detained for a week because of an immigration detainer that was issued after she was arrested on charges that her dogs were barking too loudly.

“While the Federal Government has repeatedly promised to stop the unjust detentions and deportations, and to keep families together, today California took a major step in that direction,” said Abdi Soltani, executive director of the ACLU of Northern California. “We hope that the passage of this legislation highlights California’s belief that we can do better than the harmful collaboration between local law enforcement and immigration enforcement imposed on police and sheriffs throughout the country through the S-Comm program.”

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Photo by Ryan Roderick Beller

Photo by Ryan Roderick Beller