States and cities across the country are taking the initiative to use their constitutional powers to improve public safety and advance the inclusion of their immigrant residents by limiting ICE’s overreaching hold requests. New bills are expected to pass New York’s city council this week as California, Connecticut and Massachusetts advance TRUST Act state legislation.
“I’ve been working on the TRUST Act for more than two years, and I’m happy to see other states and local governments joining in the effort to reduce the abuses of the S-Comm program,” said Asm. Ammiano (D-CA). “That’s the good news. The bad news is that productive Californians will still be deported day after day until we can enact AB 4. Ruth Montaño of Bakersfield is just one especially awful case. We know that two of three Californians deported under S-Comm are people with no convictions or minor ones. Local law enforcement needs clear guidance so they don’t continue to help ICE create chaos up our communities. My office is working with Governor Brown to craft a policy that will work for all of California.”
On the call, the story of Ruth Montaño, a mom and 13-year resident from Bakersfield, CA, illustrated the ludicrous overreach of ICE and the urgent need to pass the TRUST Acts. Montaño is herself facing deportation because of a neighbors’ complaint regarding her barking dogs. Despite the abusive and unjustified circumstances of her arrest, Ms. Montaño was held for a week on an ICE “hold” request. The TRUST Act would have prevented her unfair detention, and immigrant rights groups are hopeful Gov. Brown will fulfill his promise to quickly advance a new version of the bill.
State Sen. Eldridge (D-MA) said, “Alarming statistics show that the number of immigrants being deported across the nation have no actual criminal record. The TRUST Act puts a stop to the strain and anguish caused by families being torn apart and seeks to restore faith between our community members and law enforcement by establishing that it is not the responsibility of local law officials to enforce federal immigration laws.”
In recent weeks it has been revealed that a deportation quota of 400,000 per year drives current immigration policy and has drastically altered the relationship of local law enforcement to immigrant communities. New data has exposed that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued some 1,000,000 detainer requests to local jails during much of President Obama’s first term but only 8.6% of those requests were for people convicted with crimes that ICE considered serious and 77% were for people with no conviction whatsoever.
“We have expanded immigration enforcement from the federal to the local level, but we have not created more se communities,” Rep.Gary Holder-Winfield (D-New Haven, Hamden) said. “We have created communities of fear among people who are here for many reasons, including the aspiration to becoming American citizens. We have created communities that avoid interaction with police at all costs; the costs of their health, of acting as witnesses to crimes, at the cost of those of us who were lucky enough to be born in this country. So, I am working on this bill to put in place the protocols to reduce fear, set forth clear policy and do our part to maintain the security of the residents of this state,” he said.
While controversy has surrounded the Se Communities (S-Comm) deportation program since its implementation, such revelations have created new urgency for local states concerned with violations of civil rights and the erosion of trust in local law enforcement as a result of the Administration’s decision to enlist local police as ‘force multipliers‘ in immigration enforcement.
Following the TRUST Act initiated in California (reintroduced as AB 4 – Governor Brown has planned to ), Connecticut (HB 5938) andMassachusetts (S 1135) are the latest states to file similar bills. The TRUST Acts create a baseline standard that guides local law enforcement to improve public safety by limiting ICE’s dragnet hold requests.
As proven in municipalities with similarly enacted policies such as Cook County, Illinois and Washington DC, passage of TRUST Acts increase safety, improves trust between immigrant communities and police, saves valuable local resources, and propels the immigration debate past cynical efforts to criminalize immigrants and toward meaningful reform. Call participants will explain how their states are setting an example of curtailing cruel enforcement and preventing those who could soon qualify for legalization from being deported before reform is passed.