JULY 10, 2012
While the Obama Justice Department goes around filing lawsuits to block state immigration control measures, California is on the verge of passing a first-in-the-nation law to severely restrict the cooperation between local police and federal immigration authorities.
The controversial law, Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools, or TRUST Act, allows local law enforcement agencies throughout the state to essentially blow off federal immigration rules requiring that all arrestees suspected of being in the U.S. illegally be reported to the feds. The measure is expected to get final Assembly approval in August and Governor Jerry Brown is sure to sign it.
When the controversial bill officially passes, the question is will the Department of Justice (DOJ) go after the Golden State for defying federal law the way it has pursued others for passing measures that “undermine the federal government’s exclusive immigration enforcement duties.” Using this argument, the DOJ has taken legal action against Arizona, Alabama, South Carolina and Utah. In each case, the DOJ asserts that “a state cannot set its own immigration policy, much less pass laws that conflict with federal enforcement of the immigration laws.”
It appears that California is doing just that. The TRUST Act specifically defies the federal government’s Secure Communities program, which requires local authorities to check the fingerprints of arrestees against a federal database. The program has helped deport a number of dangerous criminals, many of whom have fallen through the cracks over the years. In fact, the elected sheriff (Lee Baca) who operates jails in Los Angeles and patrols a huge chunk of the sprawling county insists that Secure Communities works and has led to the deportation of many serious criminals.
Prior to implementing Secure Communities a “growing number of criminal illegal immigrants who were taken into custody” were eventually released back into the community, according to Baca who has been sheriff since 1998. Among them is a felon who lived in the area despite three drug-trafficking convictions and six deportations and another who had been previously removed after getting convicted for killing a child in the late 1990s.
More than 70,000 undocumented aliens have been deported in California under Secure Communities and the powerful open borders movement claims many of them are simply hard-working people in search of a better life. The TRUST Act will forbid detention on the basis of an immigration hold after the arrestee becomes eligible for release from criminal custody. It will also require local governments detaining suspects on federal immigration holds to adopt a plan guarding against racial profiling.
Just a few weeks ago the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a key provision of Arizona’s law (SB 1070) allowing police officers to check the immigration status of individuals arrested or stopped for questioning. Last spring, at the request of the Obama Administration, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld an injunction against enforcement of some of the law’s provisions.
The Obama Administration responded to the Supreme Court ruling by saying that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will not dispatch officers to remove individuals who don’t pose a public safety or border security threat.
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