The suit was filed today in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California by the Asian Law Caucus, represented by the UC Irvine School of Law’s Immigrant Rights Clinic.
As the California TRUST Act–and similar bills in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Florida–advances this year, the suit seeks to inform the public about any role federal immigration officials may have played in hindering it. Had the TRUST Act passed last year, it would have reduced the high volume of deportations caused by the Se Communities program in the state. Since its inception, the program has deported 93,000 Californians.
Because of ICE’s history of behind-the-scenes pressure on localities seeking relief from the burden of its programs, advocates are especially concerned about the potential for continued undue influence over the democratic process. In 2011, ICE’s pattern of misinformation on the federal Se Communities program prompted the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to call for a moratorium on the program and was described by Calif. Rep. Zoe Lofgren as “dishonest and dissembling.”
“Did ICE’s behind-the-scenes maneuvers last year quash community efforts to stop thousands of cruel and costly deportations?” asked Angela Chan, Senior Staff Attorney at the Asian Law Caucus. “We filed this lawsuit to vindicate the public’s right to know. We urgently need to pass the TRUST Act this year to repair the relationship between police and immigrant communities undermined by ICE’s so-called ‘Se Communities’ deportation program.”
“We are demanding the prompt release of the requested documents so that the public can participate in the ongoing debate about this bill in an informed manner,” said Jennifer Chin, a law student with the Immigrant Rights Clinic.