Governor Brown must enact AB 1081, the TRUST Act, because it will help restore the immigrant community’s trust in local law enforcement, while at the same time not being detrimental to public safety.
The bill, which awaits the governor’s signature, allows local authorities to fulfill federal requests to detain undocumented immigrants accused of serious or violent crimes. This is a change from the way the Secure Communities program is being run. It is also a return to the original purpose for which the program was established, to “identify and prioritize for removal criminal aliens convicted of violent crimes,” instead of using it as a tool to deport those suspected of misdemeanors and offenses such as traffic violations.
This latter use of the program has undermined the relationship of parts of the immigrant community with law enforcement agencies, since immigrants do not report crimes for fear of being deported.
Restoring this trust is more important for public safety than arresting a street vendor with the intention of deporting her.
In this regard, it is worrisome that Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca opposes this bill. The overzealous implementation of Secure Communities is another example of the poor management that is infesting Baca’s office.
On the other hand, Brown is also expected to sign AB 2189, which facilitates access to driver’s licenses for hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries of deferred immigration action.
These two bills are very different but important, and both are worth signing.
Therefore, we are concerned about a notion going around, that the governor will only sign one immigration law and as a result, must veto one and support the other. This is causing unnecessary rifts, tacitly confronting the interests of one group of undocumented immigrants with another. This begs the question of who deserves help and who does not.
We think Governor Brown should sign both bills, because they both do justice in their own way. One attempts to correct at the state level the implementation of a confusing federal program, while the other gives the privilege of driving to people whose immigration status is no longer undocumented.
These bills must be considered based on their worth, not on other external political concerns.