Voters May Consider Transnational Gangs Act in 2012

An organization called The Taxpayer Revolution Committee drafted an initiative to make California immigration enforcement more stringent, and is seeking the signatures needed to place the initiative on the November 2012 election ballot.

The initiative, called the Protection from Transnational Gangs Act, would expand the requirements governing California’s enforcement of federal immigration laws. It calls for all law enforcement agencies to comply with the Secure Communities program, furnishing information to federal authorities regarding arrested individuals and surrendering arrestees to the custody of any federal agency that issues an immigration detainer.

Other provisions of the initiative include the training of additional officers at the state and local level who would be able to expedite the deportation process, and making California’s ban on driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants a permanent state law.

The TRC frames the initiative as a measure to combat Mexican gangs crossing the border and threatening the peace in California. The group’s website quotes the state’s attorney general, Kamala Harris, who said transnational gangs are responsible for trafficking guns, drugs and humans into and out of the state, and called these gangs the “top emerging public safety threat to the people of California.”

To place the initiative on the ballot, the group must gather 504,000 valid signatures by May 25.

While the TRC works to alter California’s immigration enforcement mechanisms in the future, some changes are more imminent. As of January 1, Golden State police officers will no longer be allowed to impound cars simply because the driver is unable to produce a valid driver’s license when stopped at a sobriety checkpoint. Supporters of this change argued that some communities were impounding vehicles as a back-door immigration enforcement method, given that illegal immigrants cannot obtain licenses in California, though driving is a necessity for those who have taken up permanent residence in the state.