California’s Pending Immigration Bills Throw Logic Out the Window

By Joe Guzzardi
September 30, 2013

Between today and October 13, Governor Jerry Brown will determine the safety and well being of California residents. The so-called Trust Act, needing only Brown’s signature to become law, would block local police from deporting criminal aliens and violate federal law, namely Secure Communities.

Under Secure Communities, which Brown supported as Attorney General, when a suspect is booked in jail, his fingerprints are processed through an immigration database. If the check reveals that the suspect is residing in the U.S. illegally, ICE can put an immigration hold or detainer on the alien and begin deportation proceedings. The Trust Act, however, would gut Secure Communities; police would not be obligated to honor that detainer unless the crimes are violent in nature. The Trust Act converts California into a sanctuary state and puts residents at risk from known criminal offenders.

Predictably, immigration advocates like Carlos Montes of the Southern California Immigration Coalition have rallied to urge Brown to sign the bill, a version of which he vetoed last year. Proponents falsely claim that under Secure Communities aliens who pose little risk to the community have been deported and, in the process, families separated.

Attorney General Kamala Harris also endorses non-enforcement. Last December, Harris said that local police agencies “can make their own decisions” on whether to honor Secure Communities. Harris’ announcement emboldened the Trust Act’s supporters to draft a new version of the vetoed bill.

But two organizations more responsible and rational than the Attorney General’s office and the Hispanic pro-immigration lobby, the California District Attorneys Association and California Sheriff’s Association, oppose the Trust Act.

Marin County Sheriff Robert Doyle, referring to crimes that would no longer be considered egregious enough for deporation, complained that the Trust Act would ignore drug distribution, identity theft and home invasion. Doyle added that sheriffs would not be able to put holds on aliens previously deported, even “one, two, three, four---10 times.”

Former ICE Director Julie Meyers Wood agrees with the Sheriff’s Association, saying that the Trust Act “makes no sense and is unconstitutional. According to Meyers Wood, "The federal government has sole authority to enforce immigration law. In this instance California is telling the feds what you can and cannot do."

But when it comes to immigration, California marches to its own drummer. Other legislation sitting on Brown’s desk designed to add more alien entitlements are bills that would grant them driver’s licenses as well as licenses to practice law. Also awaiting Brown’s approval are bills that hope to permit legal immigrants but non-citizens to serve on juries and monitor polls during elections.

These potential benefits come on top of exisiting benefits that include in-state university tuition with access to Cal Grant scholarship funding for illegal immigrant students, a policy that harms American high school kids.

California’s illegal immigrant population, 2.5 million, is larger than any other state. But even though advocates try to use that as an excuse for expanding aliens’ privileges, California has pushed the limits of immigration audacity beyond where anyone in their wildest dreams could have imagined it would go.

If Brown signs these bills into law, California will have sent a worldwide message that if you can get into the Golden State, the sky is literally the limit.

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Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org

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