Sheriffs in California have mixed perspectives on a bill aimed at protecting certain illegal immigrants from being deported, citing that if the bill is passed they will have to choose between the law and a conflicting federal mandate.
The Trust Act was recently sent to Governor Jerry Brown, and if signed, will limit California’s participation in the federal Secure Communities program that checks the legal immigration status of individuals who are arrested. Law enforcement officials would not be allowed to detain arrestees while U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement checks the individual’s immigration status, unless the individual is suspected of committing a serious or violent felony.
“Secure Communities uses an already-existing federal information-sharing partnership between ICE and the Federal Bureau of Investigation that helps to identify criminal aliens without imposing new or additional requirements on state and local law enforcement,” ICE explained on its website.
ICE cites the Secure Communities program as an essential crime-fighting tool, but immigrant advocates believe it decreases immigrants’ trust in police while simultaneously encouraging local law enforcement officials to act as immigration agents.
Governor Brown hasn’t announced whether or not he will sign the legislation, but he was a supporter of Secure Communities when he served as state attorney general. However, the California State Sheriffs’ Association publicly opposes the legislation as they believe it will create a conflict between local and federal law, according to The Associated Press.
Since 2009, Secure Communities has identified nearly 80,000 illegal immigrants in California alone. The program is now in place in more than 3,000 jurisdictions nationwide.
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