[UPDATED with ACLU Applause:] California TRUST Act Takes Aim at Feds' "Secure Communities" and Arizona's SB 1070
See the end of this post for an update on the ACLU applauding the California Senate vote.
ORIGINAL POST, JULY 6, 1:07 A.M.: A bill that had been devised as an answer to the federal government's controversial Secure Communities program won approval on the California state Senate floor Thursday after a slight tweak in the packaging made it a dig at Arizona's divisive immigration reform law.
Authored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), and presented by state Senate floor manager Kevin de Leόn (D-Los Angeles), AB 1081, or "The TRUST Act," passed by a vote of 21-13 Thursday.
It had cleared a Senate committee in June with a 5-2 vote and was originally crafted long before the U.S. Supreme Court recently struck down most of Arizona's SB 1070, save the anti-immigrant law's most-controversial "show your papers" provision that many assume fosters racial profiling.
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"Today's vote signals to the nation that California cannot afford to be another Arizona," Ammiano said in a statement after the Senate floor vote. "The bill also limits unjust and onerous detentions for deportation in local jails of community members who do not pose a threat to public safety."
The TRUST Act, which was originally crafted to respond to the federal government's Secure Communities program that has been blamed for more than 72,000 deportations in California, would set clear standards for local governments to comply with requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain people for deportation.
Protections against racial profiling would be undertaken to guarantee only those with serious or violent felony convictions would be turned over for deportation, according to TRUST Act sponsors, who add 7 in 10 of those deported under Secure Communities in California had either no convictions or only minor offenses on their records.
Supporters, who include the California Catholic Conference, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Oakland and Palo Alto's police chiefs, have also shared heartbreaking stories about domestic violence victims facing deportation after ICE sweeps and parents allowing crimes against their children to go unreported out of fears their kids would be whisked away as well.
The bill now goes back for a concurrence vote in the Assembly, where an approval would send it on to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk in search of a signature.
UPDATE, JULY 6, 2:01 P.M.: "We congratulate the California Senate on its leadership in passing this legislation, which is a model for states seeking to reject Arizona's approach of immigration-based policing," says Jennie Pasquarella, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, in an ACLU statement.
She continues, "The TRUST Act sends a strong message that California is not Arizona. It will protect against racial profiling and allow our local police to do their jobs and focus on public safety."
The ACLU of Southern California and Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca recently commissioned a report that found an average of 2,100 people per day are detained in Los Angeles County jails on immigration holds, the vast majority of whom are not serious criminal offenders. In 2011, 14 percent of those in LA County jails were transferred to immigration officials.
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