On Thursday, July 5, the California State Senate passed Assembly Bill 1081 also referred to as the TRUST Act. AB1081 states that a police officer can only refer people convicted of serious felonies to immigration officials. Lower-level offenders can no longer be detained simply on their undocumented status. Now that this bill has been passed along party lines, it will move to be reviewed by the state Assembly.
The passing of AB1081 comes just a week after the U.S. Supreme Court decided to uphold a provision of Arizona’s anti-illegal immigration law, Senate Bill 1070, that allows a police officer to check a person’s immigration status if they suspect the person to be undocumented. Proponents of AB1081 feel that this new bill will rebuild trust among community members while the law currently standing in Arizona that allows local law enforcement to check immigration papers on individuals who have been arrested only wastes resources and destroys trust.
Tom Ammiano, a Democratic Assemblyman from San Francisco, wrote AB1081 and is pleased that California passed the bill on Thursday. He feels this sends a message that California cannot afford to become like the state of Arizona. Ammiano’s bill has been referred to as the “anti-Arizona bill” because it goes against the idea that a police officer can demand a person show them their immigration papers simply based upon the person’s appearance. Proponents of the TRUST Act feel that upholding this law in Arizona will lead to racial profiling and erode trust among members of the community.
While the recent approval of AB1081 has drawn attention to how it relates to the immigration issues in Arizona, the TRUST Act was initially written to counteract the federal program called Secure Communities. This program allows the fingerprints of people arrested nationwide to be shared with immigration authorities. The Obama Administration has stated that they will implement this program nationwide in 2013 and manage it on a federal level. The Administration also plans to revoke contracts that would have allowed state and local government agencies to manage the program themselves.