The committee heard powerful testimony from Blanca Perez, a Los Angeles mother facing deportation due to an arrest last year for selling ice cream on the street who urged the state to set an example for the rest of the country with the passage of the bill. “Immigrants in Alabama and Arizona are afraid today, but as my experience tells us, immigrants in Los Angeles, here in Sacramento and even in San Francisco, have reason to be afraid as well,” Ms. Perez told the committee.
“Blanca’s story confirms that ICE’s priorities are stunningly out-of-whack,” said Assemblymember Tom Ammiano. “This is something I’d expect in Arizona, not in Los Angeles. Persecuting this courageous, hard-working mom for selling ice cream on the street is a ridiculous waste of resources. Today’s vote recognizes that S-Comm is sabotaging our public safety. The TRUST Act is the solution we need to begin rebuilding the confidence that our local law enforcement worked so hard to build, but that ICE has shattered.”
Today’s decision comes as the Supreme Court continues to mull Arizona’s anti-immigrant SB 1070, which like the controversial S-Comm program entangles local police in federal immigration enforcement. To create a “bright line” between local police and ICE, the TRUST Act would:
- Set a minimum standard for local governments not to submit to ICE’s requests to detain people for deportation unless the individual has a serious or violent felony conviction.
- Guard against profiling and wrongful detention of citizens and crime victims and witnesses. Localities that detain individuals with serious convictions for deportation would develop common-sense plans to prevent profiling and wrongful detentions.
ICE’s latest statistics reveal that unfair deportations under the program continue to skyrocket, and underscore the agency’s continued failure to repair the deeply troubled program: S-Comm has deported 72,694 Californians from its inception through April 30 of this year. About 7 in 10 of those deported either had no convictions or had been apprehended as a result of lower-level offenses – as minor as selling ice cream without a permit.
Last year, a report by UC Berkeley’s Warren Institute estimated that nationwide, some 3,600 US Citizens were apprehended by ICE due to S-Comm since the program’s start and also found S-Comm was disproportionately targeting Latinos.
Under the program, the fingerprints of everyone arrested – even survivors of domestic violence arrested with their abusers – are automatically sent to ICE. Immigration officials then pressure local governments to hold immigrant community members in jail for extra time, at local expense, so that ICE can pick up the individuals for deportation. However, these “hold” requests are clearly voluntary under federal law.
Today’s vote falls one week after Washington, DC became the latest in a string of local governments across the country to adopt policies similar to the TRUST Act and also comes days after the California Catholic Conference – which consists of all ten of the state’s Catholic Bis – publicly announced its strong support for the bill.