California Lawmakers Move to Shield Illegal Immigrants from Deportation

William La Jeunesse, Fox News, September 24, 2013

Police in California would be prohibited from helping deport some illegal immigrants under a bill being considered by Gov. Jerry Brown, in a proposed change some say would violate federal law.

The so-called Trust Act would bar police from cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers on a variety of cases. Proponents say the bill is narrowly focused and only applies to those illegal immigrants arrested for minor crimes.

Prosecutors and sheriffs disagree.

“If you or I were victimized by someone stealing our identity, selling drugs in our community, burglarizing our home or embezzling our money, that’s okay? That’s a minor crime under this bill,” complained Marin County Sheriff Robert Doyle. “If this law passes, we will not be able to put holds on people who have previously been deported. So someone could be deported one, two, three, four–10 times and that would not be cause for us to put a hold on them.”

The California District Attorneys Association and the California Sheriffs’ Association oppose the law, in part because it also conflicts with federal statutes.

“It makes no sense and is unconstitutional,” said former ICE Director Julie Myers Wood. “The federal government has sole authority to enforce immigration law. In this instance California is telling the feds what you can and cannot do.”

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Under the Secure Communities program, whenever a suspect is booked in jail, their fingerprints go through an immigration database. If in the U.S. illegally, ICE can put a hold or detainer on the inmate so they’re deported. Under the Trust Act, police would be under no obligation to honor that detainer for dozens of crimes.

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“You’re going to have a high likelihood of individuals, who pose a significant public safety risk who are released into the community for some length of time without no guarantee ICE can put on a detainer at the time of a probable cause hearing,” said Myers-Wood. “That’s a huge loophole.”

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Under federal code 8 1373(a), a state “may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status . . . of any individual.”

Attorneys for law enforcement believe the Trust Act violates that law. California Attorney General Kamala Harris, a former San Francisco district attorney, disagrees. She says the law is discretionary, not mandatory.

Brown has until Oct. 13 to sign or veto the bill.

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