Fewer immigrants arrested by law enforcement officials in California are being handed over to federal authorities to be deported following a new state law that went into effect three months ago in January. Immigrant advocates were being proponents of the legislation, which directs law enforcement officials to release those who do not have serious criminal records more quickly rather than keep them in custody for federal officials to seize and ultimately deport.
The Associated Press says that the new law is already having a big effect on the slowing of deportations at a moment when President Barack Obama is trying to ease immigration enforcement policies all over the United States and appease immigrant advocates who believe his administration has been far too harsh.
Up until recently California has accounted for as much as a third of all deportations under the Secure Communities Program set up by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which screens the fingerprints of anyone arrested to ascertain if they have any immigration violations. Although the introduction of the Trust Act was expected to lead to a fall in people held in custody for deportation, it was unclear how significant the reduction was going to be.
The study, conducted by the Associated Press, “suggests that before the Trust Act went into effect, at least in California, Secure Communities was having a most significant impact on relatively minor criminal offenders, as opposed to the gang bangers the President was saying were being targeted,” notes immigration law expert and University of California’s Dean of Davis School of Law Kevin Johnson.