California - Immigration program opt-out OKd by Assembly
- ...Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, countered that nearly 70 percent of people who have been referred for deportation under the program have either committed minor offenses or have not been charged at all. He cited the case of Isaura Garcia, a Los Angeles County woman who faced deportation after she reported being physically abused by her boyfriend.
Immigration officials eventually suspended the deportation hearings after an outcry, but Alejo said the case "sent a chilling message across the immigrant community."
Ammiano called the program a "farce," saying it leads to racial profiling. "There is no shame in protecting people who are vulnerable," he said. "Who is it that is cleaning your house but cannot sleep there, who is paying taxes but can't stay in our country, who is fighting in Afghanistan but is being dehumanized?"
Immigration program opt-out OKd by Assembly
Marisa Lagos, Chronicle Staff Writer
San Francisco Chronicle
May 26, 2011 04:00 AM
Copyright San Francisco Chronicle. All rights
(05-26) 17:06 PDT Sacramento -- The California Assembly approved a bill Thursday to allow
counties to opt out of a federal program to combat illegal immigration that opponents say rips families apart, leads to racial profiling and erodes trust between law enforcement and immigrants. Under the Secure Communities program, initiated by President Obama, the fingerprints of anyone booked into a county jail are automatically cross-checked against immigration databases. If a person is determined to be undocumented, local authorities hand them over to federal officials for possible deportation. Several law enforcement authorities and other public officials have criticized the program, saying it jeopardizes relations with immigrant communities and separates people who have not been convicted of crimes from their families. Opponents have cited instances in which illegal immigrants were deported after they were booked on nothing more than traffic violations. The measure by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, seeks to allow counties to opt out of the program.
Two Bay Area counties - San Francisco and Santa Clara - have formally sought permission from the federal government to do so. Several other cities and counties in California have passed resolutions supporting the bill, AB1081, or are considering doing so. Elsewhere, Illinois has said it will withdraw from the program, and Maryland and Massachusetts are studying whether to do so.
* Contract changes *
Under Ammiano's measure, the state would be required to renegotiate its contract with the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement division so counties could opt out. It is not clear how federal officials would react. Last month, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told The Chronicle that local communities cannot opt in or out of Secure Communities. Nevertheless, Thursday's 43-22 vote in favor of the measure is a big win for Latino advocates and other supporters, including San Francisco Sheriff Mike Hennessey, who said the federal program violates "hard-earned trust" between law enforcement and immigrants. The bill now heads to the state Senate for consideration. Gov. Jerry Brown has not said whether he will sign the measure.
* Heated debate *
During a heated floor debate on the bill Thursday, Republican opponents said supporters were violating their oath of office by refusing to uphold federal immigration laws and accused them of wanting to protect dangerous and violent criminals. Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, countered that nearly 70 percent of people who have been referred for deportation under the program have either committed minor offenses or have not been charged at all. He cited the case of Isaura Garcia, a Los Angeles County woman who faced deportation after she reported being physically abused by her boyfriend. Immigration officials eventually suspended the deportation hearings after an outcry, but Alejo said the case "sent a chilling message across the immigrant community." Ammiano called the program a "farce," saying it leads to racial profiling. "There is no shame in protecting people who are vulnerable," he said. "Who is it that is cleaning your house but cannot sleep there, who is paying taxes but can't stay in our country, who is fighting in Afghanistan but is being dehumanized?"
* San Francisco case *
In speaking against the bill, Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks (San Bernardino County), cited the case of Tony Bologna, 48, and his sons Michael, 20, and Matthew, 16, who were shot to death in San Francisco in June 2008. The alleged gunman, Edwin Ramos, is undocumented and, despite being convicted of two felonies as a juvenile, San Francisco officials did not turn him over to immigration officials. Donnelly blamed San Francisco's "sanctuary city" law for the killings. At the time Ramos committed his juvenile offenses, city officials interpreted the law as barring them from referring underage felons to federal officials for deportation. "Shame on San Francisco and shame on anyone who would invite and protect dangerous criminals - we're not talking about ordinary people pulled over for traffic violations," Donnelly said. "I would urge a no vote, and I would ask one thing: I would invite you to sit in the living room of (widow) Danielle Bologna, whose family was slaughtered by an illegal alien drug thug who was put back on the street by San Francisco's sanctuary city policy."
* Angry reaction *
Ammiano reacted angrily, saying that the Bologna family has specifically asked not be used in the Secure Communities debate and noting that immigration officials were informed of Ramos' immigration status months before the Bolognas were slain. "That assailant was reported to ICE and you know what happened? ICE didn't act because they were probably out busting a crossing guard or a mom on her way to work," Ammiano said.
E-mail Marisa Lagos at mlagos@....
This article appeared on page A - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle
Will California opt out of Secure Communities, and can it? | Multi-American
Will California opt out of Secure Communities, and can it?
Art by José Luís Agapito/Flickr (Creative Commons)
The California Assembly passed a bill 43-22 today that challenges the embattled federal immigration enforcement program known as Secure Communities.
If the bill becomes law, it would allow the state to renegotiate its contract with the Homeland Security department, allowing local jurisdictions to opt out of what is now a mandatory fingerprint-sharing program. The state could choose to opt out altogether as well.
The bill, which now goes on to the senate, has been dubbed the Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools Act, or “TRUST Act.”
The text of the California bill was posted on Multi-American late last month.
Shortly afterward, the governor of Illinois announced plans to withdraw the state from the program.
His decision was challenged by Department of Homeland Security officials, who said the department would not allow Illinois law enforcement to opt out of sharing information with immigration authorities.
If the California bill passes and the state moves to opt out of or modify its participation in Secure Communities, can it?
The program’s implementation in California was guided by a “memorandum of understanding,” or MOA, between Homeland Security and the California Department of Justice dated January 23, 2009.
In the section titled “Modifications and Termination,” the document reads: This MOA may be modified at any time by mutual written consent of both parties.
This MOA may remain in effect from the date of signing until it is terminated by either party.
Either party, upon written or oral notice to the other party, may terminate the MOA at any time.
A termination notice shall be delivered personally or by certified or registered mail and termination shall take effect 30 days after receipt of such notice.
The same section of the Homeland Security MOA with Illinois State Police, available online along with other Secure Communities documents, has the same wording.
Secure Communities allows for the fingerprints of people booked into local jails to be checked against the Homeland Security department’s immigration records.
If there is a match, immigration authorities are notified.
Some jurisdictions, including San Francisco, have tried to opt out without success.
Critics say the program alienates immigrant communities and potentially impedes policing; immigrant advocates have pointed out that while the program is intended to find deportable criminals, it nets many people without criminal records, who are deported.
After Homeland Security’s reaction to the Illinois decision, The San Francisco Bay Guardian published a series of opinions on Secure Communities from legal scholars, among them Bill Ong Hing, a law professor at the University of San Francisco who is critical of the program.
Ong Hing noted the MOA language: “The implication of this provision is clear: the terms of the MOA are negotiable,” he said.
Will California opt out of Secure Communities, and can it? | Multi-American