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On October 5th of 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 4 (AB4), often referred as the “Trust Act.” After much criticism from Obama’s Secure Communities Program (S-Comm), which relied on local jails to “hold” immigrants for up to forty-eight hours so Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) could check their fingerprints for deportation proceedings, this bill prohibited local law enforcement from placing individuals eligible for release from custody under these immigration holds.[1] However, it also included “conditions,” stating that local officials may hold individuals convicted of a serious crimes and that these holds should not violate federal, state, or local policies. [2] Although AB4 was meant to remedy the harm caused by S-Comm, it contradicted itself by relying on 287(g), which allowed local officials to enforce immigration law.[3]

Since S-Comm led to the deportation of many immigrants with minor crime charges, communities stopped cooperating with local law enforcement, even as victims.[4] Instead, S-Comm encouraged fear towards the police and hindered community policing. [5] In fact, improving community policing and removing immigration burdens from local governments were the main arguments advocates – usually civil rights groups – relied on when promoting AB4. Advocates for AB4 were mostly pro-immigrant groups, such as the ACLU, Dream Team Los Angeles, and the Immigrant Legal Resource Center that focused on social justice movements concerning people of color.[6] Opponents – often anti-immigrant groups such as the California State Sheriff’s Association, California District Attorney Association, and Taxpayers for Improving Public Safety – argued that this bill resembled AB1081, which Governor Brown had previously vetoed on the grounds that it would release offenders convicted with serious crimes. Furthermore, they argued that this bill would undermine federal power by allowing local governments to trump federal decisions over immigration matters. [7] Despite these arguments, the bill only gained more advocates with each reading, along with a more specific list of conditions that allowed local officials to justify holds.

Between its introduction on December 2013 and its second Assembly Amendments on June 2013, the text edits section 7282.5 to include the specific criminal circumstances for which local officials may hold immigrants[8]. These conditions were directly copied from the DHS’s website and are vague enough to encompass a wide range of immigrants. The text later omits the term “criminal,” suggesting that even the author first generalized immigrants as criminals.[9] Within the positive intent of this bill lies a major contradiction that labeled immigrants as inherently criminal.

Since Trust Act merely limits the circumstances for holds and shifts immigration enforcement from federal to local government, local law officials can still choose to cooperate with ICE by signing a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) under the 287(g) program. MOAs allow local officials to screen inmates and access the ICE immigration database.[10] Although the bill’s text states that the federal government is not responsible for reimbursing agencies partnered with ICE, sheriffs can ask ICE for reimbursements.[11] Therefore, not only does 287(g) contradict the Trust Act, but it seeks to profit from further criminalizing immigrants. Although many local government comply with the Trust Act, those that chose to enact the 287(g) program have historically been considered conservative. As a conservative and residentially segregated county, Orange County reflects its anti-immigrant sentiment through 287(g), creating fear amongst its immigrant residents.[12] This only raises the question of whether these local government take advantage of their immigrant population. With local officials acting as an extension to ICE, it is at their discretion to screen certain inmates over others. Could immigrant communities living in these contracted counties feel safe when its contract with ICE only requires local officials to a four week training against racial profiling detainers?[13] Probably not. After all, local governments simply contradicted the Trust Act through the 287(g) program.

Although the number of immigrants deported has decreased since the Trust Act passed, many immigrant communities are still under attack with the mere presence of the 287(g) program, which allows local law officers to act as immigration officers.[14] Amongst one of the 32 sites in the nation and the only county in the state to implement this program is Orange County, where immigrant activist groups are attempting to terminate the existing 287(g) Program.

The Trust Act is considered a remedy to the Secure Communities Program, which was meant to target serious offenders, but instead allowed local officials to check every person’s immigration background, leading to the deportation of almost 73,000 Californians without criminal records.[15]  Policymakers were in part influenced to pass the Trust Act as the nation was facing controversies over the incarceration of immigrations and after the Oregon federal court ruled detention holds as unconstitutional. In Miranda-Olivares v. Clackamas County, the court concluded that the county jail had violated Miranda-Olivares’s Fourth Amendment right with an unreasonable seizure after they had detained her for an additional 19 hours past her sentence.[16] Although this court ruling undermined 287(g), Garcia v. Spelrich (2014) supported 287(g) by stating that local officers are allowed to request holds and that the ICE officer responsible for issuing a detainer against 5 out of 9 undocumented people in Minnesota was justified since he issued them after knowing that they were in the country illegally.[17] Additionally, this law excused local law officers in detaining individuals they suspected were committing a civil immigration violation. The Trust Act was also criticized after Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate, an undocumented immigrant with prior convictions, had fatally shot a woman in San Francisco the following year. As a “sanctuary” city that has protective policies favoring immigrants, San Francisco reflected the tensions that exist in immigration policies at the local and federal level, a situation politicians exploited to enforce anti-immigrant policies. Moreover, local governments seen as liberal in their policies towards immigrants were criticized as not being responsible enough, encouraging conservative counties such as Orange County to pride themselves in their implementation 287(g) as extra safety measurements.[18]

By signing a Memorandum of Agreements (MOA), local governments, such as Orange County, and ICE agree to train a selected number of local enforcement officials to perform immigrant-related functions within the local jails, such as interrogations, preparing charging documents, and issuing immigration detainers.[19] In order to carry out these immigration duties, selected candidates must undergo a four-week training program that covers aspects of their MOA, cross-cultural issues, civil rights laws, the U.S. Department of Justice “Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies,” etc.[20] The MOA contracts also call for the creation of a steering committee that would review 287g activities; these meetings, however, are only limited to the ICE Assistant Secretary and the Orange County Sheriff. Although the MOA states that the Orange County Sheriff Department (OCSD) will outreach to the community at their discretion, community activist argue that OCSD has not made their meetings accessible to the community. Deportation Defense Organizer Faby Jacome from Orange County Immigrant Youth United (OCIYU), one of the main organizations fighting to end the 287(g) Program, claimed that OCSD lacks interest in public feedback and accountability since they hold public hearings in locations inaccessible to the community members most affected by this program. [21] As a conservative county, often associated with wealth and whiteness, Orange County reflects the immigration tensions between those who approve of anti-immigrant policies (287g) and immigrant residents who claim that this program targets them. Hairo Cortes from OCIYU and other immigrant rights activist successfully executed a campaign against the renewal of 287(g) this February and recently convinced Santa Ana city council to end their standing contract by 2020. As a contract that the city chooses to enact, 287(g) acts on racial biases against a heavily immigrant community that feels unsafe knowing that its police department works closely with ICE (H. Cortes, personal communication, August 2016). In fact, activist also accuse the police department of targeting transgender and queer detainees by profiting off the harsh, deportable conditions they face within the jail.[22] Although the Santa Ana City Council has promised to end the contract, other cities still pose a threat to their immigrant community by upholding this contract. This is the case for cities such as Anaheim and other immigrant-heavy cities who are still under the county’s 287(g) program. While this will mostly target Latino immigrants predominantly residing in these areas, it will also affect other immigrant communities, such as Asian immigrants who already lack the immigration resources t to support them. Despite the fact that immigrants compose a third of the county’s residents, their voice is overshadowed by predominately conservative voters who applaud the county Sheriff for imposing additional “safety measurements.” Assuming that this county is in need of a program specifically aimed at identifying immigrants under serious criminal charges, suggests racist undertones that local governments with this contract classify immigrants as inherently criminal to the extent that they have exchanged effective community policing in order to instill more fear within the immigrant community and send a message to immigrants that they are not welcomed in the area. It will also send out a message that the county does not care about its young boys and men of color since they are the groups that are most exposed to police encounters and, thus, easily receive convictions that override the safety measurements of the Trust Act. In this sense, 287(g) has been effective in promoting anti-immigrant sentiments in areas that implement it. However, 287(g) is more problematic than it is helpful as it not only criminalizes the immigrant community by shifting the immigration issue from a civil matter to a criminal matter, but it also separates families with mixed immigration statuses and has a negative impact on local economies and tax bases. [23]

Until there is a concrete immigration reform at the federal level, 287(g) and the Trust Act are major ways in which ICE interacts with immigrants throughout the nation. Therefore, it’s crucial that these contracts remain transparent with the communities they affect; that community members have access to steering committees that review immigration activities and that there remains a continuous dialogue over immigration decisions. Currently, there are no reports on the status of racial profiling under these policies, but through more community-based organizing, communities can ensure that minorities are not targeted. Of course, the more practical solution would be to terminate all 287(g) contracts as they only serve to criminalize immigrants, but until then communities can improve the Trust Act’s goals by limited the ways in which ICE can access immigrants’ information and reducing the reasons by which 287(g) officers are allowed to share immigrants’ information with ICE.

Notes

[1] Ammiano, T. (2013, October 05). California Legislative Information. Retrieved September 23, 2016, from http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140AB4

[2] Choe, S. (2013, April 09). Assembly Committee on Public Safety. California Legislative Information, 1.  Retrieved September 23, 2016 from http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140AB4

[3] How the CA TRUST Act Interacts with Local Immigration Enforcement. (2014, March 14). Retrieved September 23, 2016, from https://www.ilrc.org/how-ca-trust-act-interacts-local-immigration-enforcement

[4] Choe, S. (2013, April 09). Assembly Committee on Public Safety. California Legislative Information, 1.  Retrieved September 23, 2016 from http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140AB4

[5] Ammiano, T. (2013, October 05). California Legislative Information. Retrieved September 23, 2016, from http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140AB4

[6] Ammiano, T. (2013, September 04). Senate Rules Committee. California Legislative Information, 6-7. Retrieved September 23, 2016 from http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billAnalysisClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140AB4

[7] Ammiano, T. (2013, September 04). Senate Rules Committee. California Legislative Information, 6-7. Retrieved September 23, 2016 from http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billAnalysisClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140AB4

[8] Ammiano, T. (2013, October 05). California Legislative Information. Retrieved September 23, 2016, from http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140AB4

[9] Ammiano, T. (2013, October 05). California Legislative Information. Retrieved September 23, 2016, from http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140AB4

[10] How the CA TRUST Act Interacts with Local Immigration Enforcement. (2014, March 14). Retrieved September 23, 2016, from https://www.ilrc.org/how-ca-trust-act-interacts-local-immigration-enforcement

[11] How the CA TRUST Act Interacts with Local Immigration Enforcement. (2014, March 14). Retrieved September 23, 2016, from https://www.ilrc.org/how-ca-trust-act-interacts-local-immigration-enforcement

[12] Delegation of Immigration Authority Section 287(g) Immigration and Nationality Act. (n.d.). Retrieved September 23, 2016, from https://www.ice.gov/factsheets/287g#wcm-survey-target-id

[13] Delegation of Immigration Authority Section 287(g) Immigration and Nationality Act. (n.d.). Retrieved September 23, 2016, from https://www.ice.gov/factsheets/287g#wcm-survey-target-id

[14] Kopetman, R. (2015). Here’s why fewer immigrants held in Orange County jails are being turned over to federal agents. Retrieved November 03, 2016, from http://www.ocregister.com/articles/federal-672532-immigration-immigrants.html

[15] Choe, S. (2013, April 09). Assembly Committee on Public Safety. California Legislative Information, 1.  Retrieved September 23, 2016 from http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140AB4

[16] C. (2014, April 17). OREGON FEDERAL COURT: DETAINER LED TO FOURTH AMENDMENT VIOLATION. Retrieved from http://crimmigration.com/2014/04/17/oregon-federal-court-detainer-led-to-fourth-amendment-violation/

[17] “GARCIA v. SPELDRICH | Case No. 13-CV-3182 (PJS/LIB). | Leagle.com.” Leagle. United States District Court, D. Minnesota., 06 Aug. 2014. Web. 05 Dec. 2016.

[18] Romney, L., Chang, C., & Rubin, J. (2015, July 6). Retrieved November 04, 2016, from http://www.latimes.com/local/crime/la-me-sf-shooting-20150707-story.html

[19] MEMORANDUM OF AGREEMENT – ICE. (n.d.). Retrieved November 4, 2016, from https://www.ice.gov/doclib/foia/memorandumsofAgreementUnderstanding/countyoforange.pdf

[20] MEMORANDUM OF AGREEMENT – ICE. (n.d.). Retrieved November 4, 2016, from https://www.ice.gov/doclib/foia/memorandumsofAgreementUnderstanding/countyoforange.pdf

[21] Jacome, F. (2014, May 04). OCIYU Response to 287(g) Deportation Agreement Forum. Retrieved November 04, 2016, from http://www.ociyu.org/2016/05/05/ociyu-response-to-287g-deportation-agreement-forum/

[22] A. (2016, May 16). Hunger Strike to End Immigrant Detention in Santa Ana. Retrieved November 04, 2016, from http://www.ociyu.org/2016/05/16/hunger-strike-to-end-immigrant-detention-in-santa-ana/

[23] Capps, R., Rosenblum, M. R., Rodriguez, C., & Chishti, M. (2011, January). Delegation and Divergence: A Study of 287(g) State and Local Immigration Enforcement.

Works Cited

Admin. “Hunger Strike To End Immigrant Detention In Santa Ana.” Orange County Immigrant  Youth United. N.p., 16 May 2016. Web.

Ammiano, Tom. “Bill Analysis: Senate Rules Committee.” California Legislative Information. N.p., 4 Sept. 2013. Web. 23 Sept. 2016.

Ammiano, Tom. “Bill Text: Assembly Bill No. 4.” California Legislative Information. N.p. 05 Oct. 2013. Web. 23 Sept. 2016.

Capps, Randy, Marc R. Rosenblum, Cristina Rodriguez, and Muzaffar Chishti. “Delegation and Divergence: A Study of 287(g) State and Local Immigration Enforcement.” Migration Policy Institute (2011): 18-19. Print.

Ceaser. “OREGON FEDERAL COURT: DETAINER LED TO FOURTH AMENDMENT VIOLATION.” Crimmigration. N.p., 17 Apr. 2014. Web.

Choe, Stella. “Bill Analysis: Assembly Committee on Public Safety.” California Legislative Information. N.p., 9 Apr. 2013. Web. 23 Sept. 2016.

“Delegation of Immigration Authority Section 287(g) Immigration and Nationality Act.” Official  Website of the Department of Homeland Security. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Sept. 2016.

“How the CA TRUST Act Interacts with Local Immigration Enforcement.” TRUST ACT TOOLKIT (2014): n. pag. Immigration Legal Resource Center. 14 Mar. 2014. Web. 23  Sept. 2016.

Jacome, Faby. “OCIYU Response to 287(g) Deportation Agreement Forum.” Orange County Immigrant Youth United. N.p., 04 May 2014. Web. 04 Nov. 2016.

Kopetman, Roxana. “Here’s Why Fewer Immigrants Held in Orange County Jails Are BeinG Turned over to Federal Agents.” The Orange County Register. N.p., 2015. Web. 03 Nov. 2016.

“MEMORANDUM OF AGREEMENT – ICE.” Immigration and Customs Enforcement. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Nov. 2016. \

Romney, Lee, Cindy Chang, and Joel Rubin. “Fatal Shooting of S.F. Woman Reveals Disconnect between ICE, Local Police; 5-time Deportee Charged.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 6 July 2015. Web. 04 Nov. 2016.

 

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