WASHINGTON -- California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill late Sunday to make California the "anti-Arizona" on immigration enforcement, after a long fight that took the bill into the national spotlight as a possible rebuke to a program the Obama administration has made key to its effort to remove undocumented immigrants.
Brown did not announce his decision on the bill until close to midnight, Pacific time, as part of a spate of bills -- including one he did sign to allow driver licenses for some young undocumented immigrants -- that Brown needed to address before the end of September. Even a few hours before, advocates weren't sure which way it would go, but in the end Brown ruled it "fatally flawed."
The TRUST Act, which was originally introduced by state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, would have limited the state's law enforcement's interactions with federal immigration enforcement efforts. It specifically would have restricted California's cooperation in the Secure Communities program, which relies on local police to hold undocumented immigrants detected upon arrest until Immigration and Customs Enforcement can pick them up.
Critics of Secure Communities, which they refer to as the less-euphemistic "SCOMM," argue the program hurts local communities by making immigrants fearful of police, by netting low-level and non-criminals, and by clogging jails, at a high cost, with individuals whom police would otherwise let go.
States aren't actually allowed to leave the program, although they were originally told they would be, and some have attempted to do so. But they can legally ignore requests, called detainers, to hold immigrants for ICE. The TRUST Act would release undocumented immigrants despite requests from ICE if they didn't meet certain criteria based on their record and the severity of their crime.
The bill is backed by a number of prominent Democrats, including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and 21 other members of the U.S. Congress from the state. The New York Times editorial board endorsed the legislation in June, as did religious leaders such as Los Angeles archbishop emeritus Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, law enforcement leaders, immigrant rights advocates and other prominent Californians.
On the other side, though, were arguments from ICE and some sheriffs in California that the bill could hurt safety, including from Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca, who promised to ignore the bill if it became law. ICE did not comment publicly on the legislation ahead of Brown's decision. But arguments made in letters sent previously by Director John Morton about a similar, but more local, effort in Cook County, Ill., to ignore ICE requests might be an indication of the organization's position relative to California's bill.
Morton wrote in a January letter to the Cook County Board of Commissioners that some immigrants released by local police went on to commit other crimes, although opponents of Secure Communities point out that non-immigrants are routinely released despite the fact they at times go on to repeat crimes.
Brown wrote in his veto message that he will work with the state legislature to fix the "significant flaws" in the bill, opening the door to more work in the future.
He wrote that he supports comprehensive immigration reform and that "federal agents shouldn't try to coerce local law enforcement officers into detaining people who've been picked up for minor offenses and pose no reasonable threat to their community."
"But I am unable to sign this bill as written," he continued, saying the bill bars cooperation in some instances he believes are serious. "I believe it's unwise to interfere with a sheriff's discretion to comply with a detainer issued for people with these kinds of troubling criminal records."
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Fermin Vasquez serves as the statewide Communications Coordinator for Californians for Justice. One of Los Angeles' youngest emerging Latino leaders, Fermin was a Front Line Leaders Academy Fellow with the People for the American Way Foundation, based in Washington D.C. In 2010, Fermin became the first one in his family to graduate from college, and received his degree in Political Science from California State University, Los Angeles. He was also a founding member and President of Students United to Reach Goals in Education (S.U.R.G.E.), a support and advocacy organization for those that may not have come here with the right papers, but have been raised with the right values. He is a contributor to the HuffPost LatinoVoices <em>DREAMers Blog Series</em>, and his posts can be read <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/fermin-vasquez" target="_hplink">here</a>.
Laura E. Enriquez
Laura E. Enriquez is a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles where she does research on the experiences of undocumented young adults. She is a dedicated scholar-activist and specializes in immigration, race/ethnicity, and gender. She has been mentoring, teaching, and organizing with undocumented young adults for the past five years. She is a contributor to the HuffPost LatinoVoices <em>DREAMers Blog Series</em>, and her posts can be read <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laura-e-enriquez" target="_hplink">here</a>.
Fernando Romero is the Coordinator for the Justice for Immigrants Coalition of Inland Southern California; he is also a co-founding member of <a href="http://dreamersadrift.com/" target="_hplink">Dreamers Adrift</a>, a new media project for undocumented students, by undocumented students. He is a contributor to the HuffPost LatinoVoices <em>DREAMers Blog Series</em>, and his posts can be read <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/fernando-romero" target="_hplink">here</a>.
Alma Castrejon was born in Mexico City and came to the United States at the age of seven. In 2008, she graduated from UC Riverside with B.A. degrees in Political Science - International Relations and Chicano Studies. While at UCR she founded Providing Opportunities, Dreams and Education in Riverside (PODER), a support group for undocumented students on campus. In 2011, Alma received her Master of Arts degree in Education at CSU Long Beach. She has been a member of Dream Team Los Angeles (DTLA), a community and student group that advocates for undocumented student rights and immigrant rights, since 2009; she is also an active member of Graduates Reaching a Dream Deferred (GRADD), a group of undocumented graduate students that addresses the needs of immigrant students interested in pursuing graduate education. Alma will be applying to law school in the fall of 2012. She is a contributor to the HuffPost LatinoVoices <em>DREAMers Blog Series</em>, and her posts can be read <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alma-castrejon" target="_hplink">here</a>.
Juan Escalante is an undocumented student and recent graduate from Florida State University. He is a core-member of <a href="http://www.dreamactivist.org/" target="_hplink">DreamActivist.org</a> and the founder of <a href="http://dreamactivistfl.org/" target="_hplink">DreamActivistFL.org</a>; both are online organizations that provide resources for undocumented students across the country. He is a contributor to the HuffPost LatinoVoices <em>DREAMers Blog Series</em>, and his posts can be read <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/juan-escalante" target="_hplink">here</a>.
Nancy Meza is a human being from Jalisco, Mexico. She was brought to the U.S. by her responsible and courageous mother at the age of two and proudly grew up in East Los Angeles California. She is a graduate of Theodore Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights. After High School she attended East Los Angeles Community College and transferred to UCLA where she became actively involved in organizing around undocumented and immigrant rights issues with IDEAS at UCLA and Dream Team Los Angeles. She graduated with a degree in Chicana/o Studies and a Labor and Work Place Studies minor in 2010. She is currently an intern at the Dream Resource Center; a project out of the UCLA Labor Center and continues to organize with Dream Team Los Angeles where she is a member of the media and communications team. She is a contributor to the HuffPost LatinoVoices <em>DREAMers Blog Series</em>, and her posts can be read <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nancy-meza" target="_hplink">here</a>.
Erick Huerta is majoring in journalism at East Los Angeles College. As a member of Dream Team Los Angeles, he is one of the coordinators handling the group's communications and social media endeavors. He has lived in the U.S. for the past 20 years and has been chronicling his personal experiences as an undocumented resident for the last eight years on his personal <a href="www.justarandomhero.blogspot.com" target="_hplink">blog</a>. He's also a community reporter for the community of Boyle Heights and an avid cyclist. He can be recognized by his trademark bigotes. He is a contributor to the HuffPost LatinoVoices <em>DREAMers Blog Series</em>, and his posts can be read <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/erick-huerta" target="_hplink">here</a>.
Jonathan Perez is a queer undocumented political exile from Colombia, and a Co-Founder of the Immigrant Youth Coalition in Southern California. On why he contributes to the series, he writes, "It is shocking to most, but I don't actually advocate for the DREAM Act. I organize for the rights of undocumented immigrants. I believe that in order to have meaningful changes we must first address the root causes. In order to change our realities we have to build a global movement and a global revolution. I write for the Huffington Post <em>DREAMers Blog Series</em> because it gives me the opportunity to give a different perspective to what the issues of undocumented people are." You can read his posts <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-perez" target="_hplink">here</a>.
Mayra Hidalgo Salazar
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