New Year Brings TRUST Act Protections
Do you feel more trusty today?
Well, you should, because California's TRUST Act and other immigrantion-reform measures kick in with the new year.
Known formally as Assembly Bill 4 by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), the TRUST (Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools) Act sets a minimum standard throughout California to limit immigration "hold" requests in local jails. (We're looking at you, Theo Lacy and Santa Ana Jail!)
As my colleague Gabriel San Roman reported in June, a Pro-TRUST Act caravan's statewide trip stopped at Santa Ana's city jail, which had just agreed to hold immigration detainees for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and then moved on to nearby Orange's Theo Lacy Facility, which also enforces ICE holds.
The TRUST Act ensures that people with mostly low-level, non-violent offenses are not wastefully held for deportation purposes while also including minimum standards to allow holds for both felony convictions and for those accused of felonies under certain circumstances. It also allows holds for people with a number of higher level misdemeanor convictions within five years and for certain convictions in federal court.
Proponents of the bill pointed out that without the TRUST Act, ICE hold requests often snared not only undocumented community members but citizens and legal residents, unnecessarily clogging local jails with non-criminals and burning taxpayer dollars.
"We're not using our jails as a holding vat for the immigration service," Governor Jerry Brown said as he signed the bill on Oct. 5, predicting the law would serve as a national model. Massachusetts and Maryland have TRUST Acts pending, and President Obama is under increasing pressure to follow California's lead.
Support for the bill caused some sheriffs in California to shift their stances on participating in jailing many immigrants. Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas, who had previously threatened to defy the TRUST Act, wound up supporting it. San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon last month added TRUST Act protections into his controversial agreement with ICE.