A bill making its way through the California state legislature would restrict how local law enforcement agencies cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
If the Trust Act is passed, California will be the first state in the country to challenge the federal Secure Communities program by directing local police departments to stop detaining undocumented immigrants after they're eligible for release.
Border reporter Amy Isackson reports about 198,000 people nationwide have been deported under Secure Communities in the last three years. California leads all states with 75,000 deportations. Seventy percent of those deported did not commit a crime or were guilty of a low-level offense.
The bill's sponsor, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, said on KQED Forum last Friday that the Trust Act will help free up resources in the criminal justice system as many less-violent prisoners that would have formerly been sent to state prison are now directed to county jails under realignment:
"There's a lot of pressure on local jail space--that's what realignment is doing," Ammiano told host Joshua Johnson. "And we shouldn't use these resources to unfairly trap parents, students, and you know, even citizens... There is a lot of racial profiling going on around this. What we're asking is that there be standards and protocols so that innocent people are not swept up. You can't criminalize someone for being undocumented, but of course, if they're [violent criminals] they should be deported."