In response to a threat by Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca to ignore a proposed state law that would limit when local law enforcement must detain illegal immigrant arrestees (“Sheriff Baca may defy proposed law easing immigration enforcement,” Los Angeles Times, August 25), ACLU of Southern California Executive Director Hector Villagra issued the following statement:
“Local law enforcement agencies participate in the Secure Communities program and honor detainer requests on a voluntary basis, but there’s nothing voluntary about obeying and enforcing a law passed by the elected representatives of this state.  The sheriff’s job is to carry out the law, not to pick and choose which laws he likes and which he doesn’t.
“Secure Communities has shattered the relationship between law enforcement and the communities it’s supposed to protect.  The TRUST Act restores that bond by stating clearly when local law enforcement should help with immigration enforcement – in cases of serious crimes – and when it shouldn’t.  Sheriff Baca’s statements show ignorance both of how the TRUST Act works, and the limits of his own power.”
Secure Communities – or “S-Comm” – establishes a system for local authorities to share fingerprints of arrestees with federal immigration officials.  In theory the program should only funnel serious criminals into the immigration system, but the ACLU/SC has documented dozens of cases where people have found themselves detained for weeks following an arrest for crimes like shoplifting, illegally selling tamales, or even reporting domestic abuse.  Some local law enforcement officials mistakenly believe that ICE's detainer requests are mandatory.
The TRUST Act cleared the state assembly last week and now goes to the governor for his approval.