For immediate release:
August 25, 2016
Contact: Jon Rodney, CIPC,firstname.lastname@example.org ; Armando Carmona, NDLON, (323) 250-3018
CA Senate approves revamped TRUTH Act to bring transparency to shadowy deportation practices
New version of bill upholds immigrants’ right to turn down abusive deportation interviews by ICE agents in local jails
Sacramento – Today, the California State Senate approved a re-tooled version of the TRUTH Act (AB 2792) by Assemblymember Bonta. The initial vote count was 23 to 9. The bill will now return to the Assembly floor for a concurrence vote to approve the amendments. Following that vote, the bill heads to Governor Brown’s desk.
The Senate’s approval of the TRUTH Act comes amid mounting frustration over the involvement of local police and Sheriff with deportations, with the case of a Los Angeles grandmother turned over from LAPD to ICE and currently facing deportation due to false and tenuous accusations of gang association. As the case of Abuela Xochitl shows, once handed over to ICE, community members can languish in detention for long periods of time without so much as seeing a judge and with limited oversight once individuals are in ICE custody.
The version of the bill approved today focuses on upholding the community’s right to know about Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s unscrupulous and secretive practices.
“California is the nation’s most diverse and forward-thinking state. We don’t build walls, we build bridges. And the TRUTH Act embraces that core value by bringing transparency to ICE’s secretive practices and ensuring our immigrants have the same constitutional protections guaranteed to all Californians,” said Assemblymember Rob Bonta.
Specifically, the bill would:
1) Put vital know-your-rights information in the hands of immigrant community members held in local jails and targeted by ICE.
- The TRUTH Act would guarantee to community members the “right to know” if ICE has asked the local jail to turn the person over for deportation, and the “right to say no” or to request to have an attorney present for abusive interview requests where deportation agents often coerce, intimidate, and violate basic rights. While interviews with ICE inside local jails are optional, that basic information is currently denied to immigrants.
- If local law enforcement does notify ICE about a person’s release date, they must also notify that person’s loved ones or attorney.
2) Shine light on the hidden pain caused by the involvement of local sheriffs and police in deportations.
- Starting in 2018, any Police Chief or Sheriff that does turn a community member over to ICE must hold a public forum to explain the decision.
- The bill would make clear that all records relating to ICE’s entanglement with local jails are public records.
With the latest round of amendments, this year’s bill no longer prohibits local law enforcement from providing personal information, such as release time from jail or home addresses. However, immigrant community leaders are determined to keep up the fight.
“Across the nation, people are realizing that mass incarceration — and mass deportation — are fundamentally unjust and disproportionately hurt communities of color. We’re going to keep fighting to keep local police and sheriffs out of the dirty business of deportation and to protect our communities against abuse and injustice,” said Claudia Bautista, organizer at the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON). She continued, “Our goal is to se our communities by getting ICE completely out of our jails.”
ICE’s entanglement with law enforcement has generated increasing controversy across California. Cases including the deportation of the father of 6 citizen children over a broken headlight and a 20-year old conviction, the near deportation of a car-theft victim, the prolonged incarceration of the fiancé – now spouse – of a gay marine veteran with AIDS, and an ICE home raid that terrified a gay couple during Pride Month and almost resulted in the deportation of a man back to homophobic violence, have sparked widespread anger.