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Letter to Governor Edmund G. Brown, State of California - TRUST Act

Today twenty-eight Members of the California Democratic Congressional Delegation (CDCD), led by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco); Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose), the Chair of the CDCD; and Mike Honda (D-San Jose), released the following letter to California Governor Edmund "Jerry" Brown expressing their support for A.B. 4, the Transparency and Responsibility in Using State Tools Act ("TRUST Act"), and urged him to sign the bill. The following is the full text of the letter which can also be viewed by clicking here:

August 12, 2013

Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr.
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacrament, CA 95814

Re: The TRUST Act, AB 4(Ammiano)

Dear Governor Brown:

As Members of the California Congressional Delegation, we write to offer our strong support for the Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools (TRUST) Act (AB 4-Ammiano). The bill sets clear, uniform standards to limit burdensome detentions of aspiring citizens by local law enforcement solely on the basis of federal immigration detainer requests. The measure is designed to enhance public safety and protect civil liberties, while also promoting fiscal responsibility at the state and local levels.

The TRUST Act was introduced in response to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency's "Secure Communities" program (S-Comm). S-Comm was ostensibly created in order to focus "on the identification and removal of [immigrants] who are convicted of a serious criminal offense and are subject to removal" (Secure Communities Memorandum of Agreement Template). However, this program has instead resulted in the detention and deportation of many who have never been convicted of any crime, or have only been convicted of minor crimes, including traffic offenses.

In fact, almost 100,000 Californians have been deported under the S-Comm Program since its inception. (ICE Interoperability Statistics May 31, 2013). Civic and faith leaders from California and across the country have forcefully argued that we should not deport today those who could be on the road to citizenship tomorrow.

Moreover, a growing body of evidence shows that the S-Comm Program has reduced the willingness of immigrant and non-immigrant crime victims and witnesses to cooperate with local law enforcement, and consequently has diminished public safety. A recent report "Insecure Communities: Latino Perceptions of Police Involvement in Immigration Enforcement" by the University of Illinois at Chicago demonstrated the chilling effect of the program, finding that 70% of undocumented Latinos are less likely to call the police if they are victims of crimes.

The TRUST Act is intended to restore the public's trust in local law enforcement by drawing a clear line between local law enforcement and federal immigration enforcement. It is also fully consistent with President Obama's purported efforts to prioritize the removal of individuals with serious criminal convictions and the original, stated purpose of Secure Communities itself.

In response to your veto, the current version of the TRUST Act gives law enforcement much broader discretion to honor detainer requests than last year's vetoed bill. For example, the TRUST Act allows holds for felony charges -- including non-violent felonies -- before conviction, so long as a judge makes a finding of probable cause after a not-guilty plea. The proposal also allows holds for people with misdemeanor "wobbler" convictions within 5 years, (technically known as wobblers, these crimes can also be charged as felonies). For domestic violence, the bill limits holds to those with convictions only, since many survivors are arrested along with those who abuse them.

The TRUST Act is a vital policy because it establishes a bright line standard between local law enforcement and federal immigration enforcement. It will ensure that those who have not been convicted of any crime, have only been convicted of minor crimes, or those who are only identified by the S-Comm program because of their immigration history, are not held on costly and unfair federal immigration detainers.

Today we proudly join with faith leaders, local government leaders, and legal scholars who already have lent their support to the TRUST Act. We strongly support AB 4 as written and encourage you to sign the bill when it is presented to you by the legislature and to continue California's proud tradition of being a leader on smart and sensible policies.

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