Assembly Bill 4, or the Trust Act, is sitting on California Governor Jerry Brown's desk.  The clock is ticking on whether the governor will decide to put his signature to a law which would put the damper on federal immigration agents' ability to track and quickly place under custody arrestees who might be deportable.  Immigrant advocates call it an important strike back against the Obama administration's Secure Communities program, which was intended to boost cooperation between local police agencies and federal immigration authorities and which those advocates say has led to a surge in deportations of people who committed no serious offenses.

Since Secure Communities was launched, after jails in California send arrestees' fingerprints to the FBI to be run against the feds' database, the FBI sends that information to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for that agency to run against their own databases.  If the ICE turns up somebody they think may be deportable, they can send an "immigration detainer" to the jail asking it to hold the individual in custody even if they've become otherwise eligible for release.  The ICE then has forty-eight hours to send an agent to that jail to interview the individual and, if it deems necessary, place them in federal custody.  The Trust Act would require jails to ignore those detainers, meaning if the detainee had met all the other requirements for release, the jail would have to let them go - unless that person had previously been convicted of certain serious crimes.

Another version of the bill was vetoed by Brown last year, according to Brown, because that list of serious crimes left out child abuse, the use of minors for drug-trafficking and terroristic threats.  But he signaled then that he would sign the legislation if it expanded the list to include certain crimes.  The bill's sponsor, San Francisco assemblyman Tom Ammiano, says he worked with the governor to ensure that the new list would meet Brown's approval.  Carlos Alcala, spokesman for Ammiano's office, told La Opinion, "We've spoken a lot with the governor's office, and we hope that the amendments included make him sign off on the bill.  So we think that we have a measure which will protect most people and which he will sign." 

The Los Angeles Times notes that the Trust Act may not actually decrease the number of immigrants deported, which reached over 400,000 in 2012.  But together with the passage of a recent law allowing undocumented immigrants to get driver's licenses, the bill would serve as a bit of political pushback against Secure Communities and the Obama administration's deportation policy as the wait for comprehensive immigration reform drags on.  "I think the Trust Act will stand for the proposition that we need to stop criminalizing innocent immigrants," Chris Newman, legal director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, told the LA Times. "It will definitely scaffold the effort for federal comprehensive immigration reform."

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