FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Candice Francis / Communications Director, LCCR / 415.543.9697 x216 / firstname.lastname@example.org
(San Francisco, CA) San Francisco Police Chief Gregory Suhr joined law enforcement officials across the state, including Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan and Palo Alto Police Chief Dennis Burns, in supporting the TRUST Act (AB 1081). The bill, currently awaiting Governor Brown’s signature, will improve public safety, protect immigrant families, and help prevent racial profiling by setting guidelines for California’s participation in the controversial Secure Communities Program (S-Comm). As a civil rights organization that advances, protects and promotes the rights of communities of color, immigrants and refugees, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights has seen firsthand the devastating effects of S-Comm on immigrant families and communities.
Though S-Comm’s stated intention was to prioritize serious and violent offenders for removal proceedings, 70 percent of the immigrants deported from California under the program have not been convicted of a serious crime. Domestic violence victims, witnesses of crimes, and even U.S. citizens have all been detained and in many cases deported under the program. By exposing victims and witnesses of crimes to the threat of deportation simply for cooperating with the police, S-Comm discourages them from coming forward and undermines public safety.
S-Comm also encourages racial profiling: even if an arrestee is never convicted or charged, he or she may still be referred to ICE through S-Comm. Since S-Comm’s inception, we have received numerous reports of U.S. citizens and immigrant community members being targeted for stops, arrested when they would ordinarily be cited, and detained long after they would normally be released. The statistics are telling: although they comprise only 77 percent of the undocumented population, 93 percent of those apprehended under S-Comm are Latino.
If the TRUST Act is signed into law, California will become the first state to set clear guidelines for its participation in S-Comm so that immigrant communities and the larger public will be better protected. With it, California has the unique opportunity to lead the nation and model an alternative to racist, anti-immigrant polices like Arizona’s SB1070. As law enforcement officials such as Chief Suhr have highlighted, it is urgent that all of us in this diverse state guard against racial profiling, protect vulnerable victims and witnesses of crime, and promote trust between law enforcement and immigrant communities. The TRUST Act is an important first step. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights urges Governor Brown to make California the “anti-Arizona” State by signing the TRUST Act into law.