Immigrant groups say many minority communities in Massachusetts mistrust their local police. Advocates say about 1, 100 people are deported from America every year. They say immigrant communities often fear police officers because a friend or relative could be discovered and deported. The Massachusetts Trust Act is meant to restore trust in law enforcement by keeping immigration issues out of the hands of local police and under the control of the federal government. The bill ensures all residents, for regardless of their immigration status, can contact police without fear of deportation. “When immigrants see that a traffic stop or an arrest from the local police results in their deportation and separation of their family, that creates a lot of distress,” said Sarahi Uribe, Day Laborer Organizing Network Coordinator.
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No pasa un día sin que Sara Martínez, link una inmigrante ecuatoriana sin papeles, stuff agradezca el poder vivir con su hija Hillary en Estados Unidos. Martínez, de 48 años, fue arrestada en enero del 2011 en una parada de autobús en Rochester, Nueva York, y casi deportada, pero la nueva política del gobierno de priorizar la expulsión de inmigrantes que cometen delitos graves y mantener en el país a los que no representen una amenaza pública y tengan lazos con la comunidad la salvó de tener que separarse de su hija, que es ciudadana estadounidense. Aun así, su caso se prolongó durante un año y cuatro meses, y pudo cerrarse gracias a una larga campaña mediática en la que intervinieron activistas, congresistas y varios grupos de ayuda a favor de la inmigrante, que no tiene historial criminal ayuda como voluntaria a familias de escasos recursos. “Esto es algo que se podría haber resuelto mucho antes, pero no sabe todo lo que tuve que luchar para lograrlo”, dijo Martínez a la Associated Press.
Last year delivered some milestones in U.S. immigration history – including a historic demographic shift, fueled by immigration, as the children of nonwhite parents became the majority of babies born in this country. Also for the first time, more than 100,000 young people who arrived in the United States as minors are living out of the shadows after obtaining temporary legal status through deferred action, a new program that lets young undocumented immigrants who qualify live and work legally in the U.S. And in late June, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision in the case of Arizona v. United States, upholding the most contested provision of Arizona’s trendsetting SB 1070 anti-illegal immigration law. But the issue of states’ rights in setting their own immigration policies remains in flux as new controversies arise.
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Federal immigration authorities quietly announced a new policy just before Christmas that promises to ease conflicts with local law enforcement agencies while targeting violent criminals for deportation. The new Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency policy mirrors what was promised four years ago when the Se Communities program was launched. ICE will review fingerprints from people arrested by local police, and it will seek custody of people believed to be in the United States illegally if they have committed a serious crime or are repeat offenders. In practice, ICE has detained and deported thousands of people with no criminal record or who have been arrested for petty offenses such as traffic violations. In Sonoma County, 47 percent of the people turned over to immigration agents in the first year of the program hadn’t been convicted of the crimes that landed them in jail.
The Obama administration has spent nearly four years trying to convince states and local law enforcement that the federal immigration program known as Se Communities is narrowly targeted to deporting dangerous criminals. It’s not. And late last month, the administration finally conceded as much when it announced long-overdue reforms that should restore some credibility and fairness to the controversial program. Se Communities was created to identify “dangerous criminal aliens” for deportation. Local law enforcement agencies were supposed to send the fingerprints of arrestees to federal immigration officials, who would run them through national crime databases. If an arrestee turned out to be an illegal immigrant with a serious criminal background, a “detainer” could be issued requesting that he be held for up to 48 hours so that federal officials could take him into custody.
Look sharp, online Sacramento. And brush up on your Spanish: The immigration debate is set to flare up once again in Washington, D.C., but the path to citizenship may begin here in the state Capitol. Democratic state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano recently, and for the third time, introduced the TRUST Act to the California Legislature. This bill would limit state law enforcement’s participation in Se Communities, a system introduced by President George W. Bush and expanded by the Obama administration that allows federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement to ask local police and sheriff departments across the country to hold undocumented immigrants already in custody for the purpose of deportation. The TRUST Act passed through both houses of the Legislature last fall before Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the bill. Now, amid rising dialogue on both sides of the aisle over immigration reform, it’s back. And Ammiano insists that the governor pay attention. “This is not something we can shy away from,”
In 2007, when Virginia’s Prince William County ordered police to check the immigration status of anyone they had “probable cause” to suspect was in the U.S. unlawfully, the impact was swift at family restaurant Ricos Tacos Moya. “Suddenly nobody showed up,” says Stacey Moya, an employee, and daughter of the owner. “Nobody was around. Not one soul. We would go hours without any customers, any clients. Nothing.” After community protests, the policy was soon watered down. In fact, police only check the status of those they arrest for a crime. Still, the stigma around the resolution stuck. Moya says one of her family’s restaurants went under. And while business at this one has picked up, it’s not the same. “Not even on weekends after church,” she says. “Nowhere near what it was before. I guess nobody likes to be around in the public that much.” Next year Congress is expected to again take up immigration reform, something it tried, but failed, to pass in 2006 and 2007. The collapse…