WASHINGTON — California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill on Saturday, October 5, 2013, limiting the state’s cooperation with federal immigration authorities, which has led to record deportations from the state.
The new California law, known as the Trust Act, limits the state’s cooperation with Secure Communities, a federal program that allows the Department of Homeland Security to access fingerprints taken by local police, to screen detained individuals for immigration status and to request that law enforcement agencies hold them if they’re found to be undocumented.
Supporters of the Trust Act say Secure Communities makes immigrant communities fearful of police and less likely to report crime, in case in doing so they reveal their undocumented status and get into trouble.
Secure Communities — or S-Comm, as its opponents refer to it — isn’t designed to ensnare people without criminal records who get into fender benders. Despite reforms aimed at limiting holds for non-serious offenders, a report released Tuesday by Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University found that plenty of people were held even when it was against ICE policy to do so.
The program is also expensive when used on a broader basis, beyond serious criminals. Requests to detain are supposed to last 48 hours at most, but law enforcement officials sometimes keep people longer, according to reports. A report from Justice Strategies in August 2012 found that Los Angeles County was spending more than $26 million a year to hold undocumented immigrants who it would otherwise release if it weren’t for ICE requests to hold them. Justice Strategies estimated that California taxpayers were spending $65 million each year to hold immigrants for ICE.
Advocates of the bill said it is a major step forward toward broader immigration reform in the U.S., and applauded its passage.
A refugee is someone persecuted in his or her home country due to race, religion, war, nationality, or political affiliation. Obtaining refugee status in the United States is a form of protection for refugees who are not allowed or unwilling to return to their home country because of fear or social harm. In order to qualify for the refugee status, the applicant must be from outside the U.S.
To qualify for an asylum status, the applicant must meet the definition of a refugee, be present in the U.S., and seek admission at a port of entry, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
One can apply for asylum regardless of the background of your country and immigration status.
The House has recently added the issue of immigration reform on their agenda for this month and next month. To read more about the updates of immigration reform, read Laura Matthew’s article below:
2013 Immigration Reform Makes Cantor’s Legislative Agenda, But Uncertainty Remains Over Undocumented
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., indicated in a recent memo to Republicans that a vote on 2013 immigration reform bills may come this fall, as the topic was added to the legislative agenda for this month and the next.
Cantor noted that the House “may begin considering” this fall the five bills passed in various committees. No one in the majority leader’s office was available for a comment Wednesday evening on when exactly the bills will be brought to the floor. “Before we consider any other reforms, it is important that we pass legislation securing our borders and providing enforcement mechanisms to our law enforcement officials,” the memo read.
This should be a good sign for immigration reform advocates: Unlike in previous memos from Cantor, this one did not mention immigration reform as an afterthought — even though thorny issues like appropriations, debt limit, Syria, nutrition (food stamps) and Obamacare all came before it on the agenda, in that particular order.
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