AFSC is deeply disappointed that California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the AB 1081, the Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools (TRUST) Act, a measure which allows local law enforcement to decline to participate in the controversial “Secure Communities” federal immigration program that funnels individuals from local jails to deportation proceedings.

Immigrant advocates, including AFSC, argue that Secure Communities, or “S-Comm,” undermines community safety and jeopardizes civil rights by requiring state and local jails to run immigration background checks on any person booked into custody—regardless of the seriousness or ultimate disposition of their charges.

Three states and numerous cities have demanded to be removed from the program, but the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has refused their requests and continues to run the program.

Just last year (2011), a harshly critical report  from a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Taskforce found that S-Comm could encourage a perception of local police as immigration officials, thus discouraging immigrant witnesses and crime victims from reporting crime and endangering public safety.

Under the TRUST Act, local police would agree to hold inmates for ICE only if they have been convicted or charged with a serious or violent felony. If the inmates are noncriminals or minor offenders who would otherwise be let go, they would not be turned over to ICE.

For the two years since the bill’s introduction, AFSC’s San Diego office has actively supported its passage, holding community forums, rallies, and lobbying state lawmakers in Sacramento. 

“It is extremely disappointing that Gov. Brown has vetoed the TRUST Act, a bill that would have ensured fewer families suffer the consequences of needless deportations.  Gov. Brown had an opportunity to stand for immigrants, to make California a leader in civil and human rights, and he has failed in that regard,” stated Pedro Rios, director of AFSC’s office in San Diego.

As The New York Times editorialized last week (Sept. 26), the TRUST Act represents ”just one state trying to be level-headed and proportionate about who gets deported, which families get split up, and which policing strategies are smartest, most effective and most humane.”

AFSC has long urged humane immigration reform, including an end to tearing families apart in the name of security. The TRUST Act represented one step towards reforming a deeply flawed and misguided immigration policy.