September 20, 2012
Jamiel Shaw, Jr. is back in the news. In 2008, Pedro Espinoza shot Shaw, a 17-year-old African American, dead. Espinoza is a Mexican illegal alien and member of the notoriously blood thirsty Los Angeles-based 18th Street gang. Shaw’s father, using his son’s tragic murder as an example, recently implored Governor Jerry Brown not to sign the Trust Act, a bill that would allow California police to release illegal aliens even if Immigration and Customs Enforcement has reason to detain them.
The Trust Act, first introduced by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano and subsequently embraced by the rest of the pro-illegal alien California legislature, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as well as others from California’s Democratic congressional delegation, would gut Secure Communities, a federal information sharing program that allows ICE to hold illegal immigrants for possible deportation when they’ve been arrested for other crimes.
Espinoza, despite his violent history that dates back to 2005, benefited from Special Order 40, a Los Angeles Police Department procedure initiated in 1979 that has some of the Trust Act’s alien protecting caveats. Special Order 40 prohibits officers from inquiring about an individuals’ immigration status even if he is known to be involved in gangs. The day before he killed Shaw, Espinoza had been released from jail on weapons and resisting arrest charges. During Espinoza’s trial, more chilling evidence came out. While behind bars, Espinoza was a gang enforcer who initiated eight fights against other inmates and possessed jail- made weapons. In juvenile hall, Espinoza’s record was similar and included challenging his arresting officer to a fist fight.
Despite the protestations and denials of its supporters, the Trust Act would protect individuals with profiles similar to Espinoza’s. To endorse the Trust Act and, at the same time, make the baseless charge that Secure Communities unfairly targets innocent immigrants marks the dividing line between those who favor a serious enforcement and the alien lobby that advocates for aliens regardless of the circumstances.
At the request of House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith, the Congressional Research Service analyzed what happens to criminal aliens that Secure Communities identifies but which ICE subsequently releases. According to the report, between July 2008 and October 2011 (the period studied) more than 26,000 of the released criminal aliens, about one in six, were re-arrested and charged with nearly 58,000 new crimes.
The 58,000 felonies included more than 6,000 drug violations, 8,000 DUI violations, 59 murders and 21 attempted murders.
With such compelling evidence that proves Secure Community’s ability to create a safer environment for citizens, it’s not a surprise that Shaw, Sr. has taken his case to Governor Brown. While pleading his case, Shaw asked: "Would you want that to happen to your son? How many have to die by people being let out into the streets from the county jail that should be deported. No one should have to go through losing a child."
Shaw has the California Sheriffs Association on his side. Nick Warner, legislative director for the association, said his organization is "forcefully pushing for a veto," noting that "the sheriffs of this state are actively, unalterably and vehemently opposed."
But whether the sheriffs and public opinion will be enough remains to be seen. Brown has until September 30 to sign or veto the Trust Act. If he does neither, the bill will automatically become law.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose column has been syndicated since 1986. Contact him at email@example.com