Assembly Bill 4 (AB4), the Trust Act, was passed by the California Senate by a vote of 24 to 10. This legislation will prevent the local police from detaining and deporting undocumented immigrants without serious criminal records. This bill must now be approved by Gov. Jerry Brown. 27 members of the California Democratic congressional delegation are now urging him to sign the Trust Act into law.
California State Sen. Kevin de Leon praised the Trust Act and stated that the federal program, the Secure Communities program, leads to the deportation of innocent people without criminal offenses, just because they are undocumented immigrants. The Secure Communities program allows the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to identify undocumented immigrants detained by local law enforcement authorities.
Members of the Republican party, who are against the Senate immigration reform bill, say that this Trust Act would be a “get out of jail” free card for the undocumented immigrants with criminal records, living in the country. They are focusing on the part of the Senate immigration reform bill that would encourage the law enforcement officials to ignore the law that currently requires them to place suspected immigrants in deportation proceedings. They are in favor of the Secure Communities program.
The Trust Act is the part of the immigration bill that would prevent law enforcement authorities from detaining undocumented immigrants. This law does not say that the criminals must be released but it says that the immigration status of the undocumented immigrants alone is not sufficient to arrest them.
More than 70 percent of the immigrants in detention facilities and the ones who were deported under Secure Communities are non-criminals. Most of them were deported for minor offenses like traffic violations. According to the Trust Act, an immigrant, Juana Reyes, was arrested and placed in removal proceedings for selling tamales in a parking lot. Her children were separated from her and they were placed in foster care.
The Senate bill says that the undocumented immigrants must not be treated unfairly just because they are undocumented. At the same time it will not ignore the crimes they commit. But the law enforcement authorities are against this act. They say that this act would prevent them from handing criminals over to the immigration authorities.