The California Senate has recently passed a bill, the California Trust Act, which has been nicknamed the anti-Arizona bill, because it helps to protect immigrants from immigration status checks by authorities. Arizona has become known for passing a law which made it a requirement for police to check the immigration status of anyone they believed was in the country illegally. Many other states have followed suit. The California bill is a response to the Republican-supported get-tough-on-immigration policies.
The California Senate, with a Democrat majority, voted 21 to 13 in favor of the bill. The bill prevents local police authorities from passing a detained person on to immigration officials. The only exception is if the detainee has been convicted of a serious felony or a violent crime.
Assemblyman Tom Ammiano sponsored the bill and has stated that the vote shows that California will not support Arizona-style immigration laws. He also stated that the law will ensure that those in the community who are not a threat to public safety will not be jailed for immigration violations.
About 100 immigration advocacy organizations, as well as mayors and police chiefs have publicly voiced their support for the California Trust Act. The bill will still need to pass a concurrence vote with the Assembly before being passed to the Governor. The California Trust Act has already passed the state Assembly with a 47-26 vote in favor of the bill.
The Arizona immigration law was allowed by the US Supreme Court to stand, even though some provisions in it were struck down. According to some supporters of the bill, the California Trust Act is the start of a backlash that may become a national model. Many who oppose the Arizona law and others like it say that state laws requiring local police to get involved in immigration checks and immigration policies encourage racial profiling.
The California Trust Act makes California unique. At a time when Arizona as well as Georgia, Alabama, Utah, Indiana, and South Carolina have passed measures to prevent undocumented immigration in their borders, the California bill aims to protect undocumented immigrants – as well as legal immigrants and residents – from checks by police.
The California Trust Act also addresses the Secure Communities, a measure which advocates of the California bill say also encourages racial profiling in the same way as the Arizona law. Under the Secure Communities program, local police check fingerprints of those arrested locally against FBI crime databases and immigration databases. Those who are arrested and found to be violating immigration laws are handed over to immigration authorities. Local police can opt out of the program.