California Immigration Lawyer Blog

Articles Posted in Immigration and Customs Enforcement

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A few months ago I wrote a post on a bill pending in the California State Assembly (AB 101) which would permit California counties to opt out of the federal enforcement program known as “Secure Communities.”

There has been some action taken on the bill since I last wrote. The Assembly passed the bill on May 26, 2011. It was then referred to Senate Appropriations Committee. You may follow the status of the bill by clicking on the link below.

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It is interesting to note that all California counties are currently participating in the Secure Communities initiative. Solano County was one of the first counties to join in and San Francisco a little later. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (“ICE”) has published a booklet showing all states and their participation levels with Secured Communities. I have attached the page for California. While there has been talk in San Francisco of opting out, Solano county officials have thus far remained silent about their position. I will update the blog again when the Senate committee takes action.

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California State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano representing San Francisco has co-sponsored a bill called “The Trust Act” (AB 1081) The Trust Act is a bill which would allow counties to opt-out from full participation in federal enforcement program called “Secured Communities,” also known as S-Comm.

Currently anyone who is arrested and booked has their fingerprints taken. The “Secure Communities” program allows the prints to not only be checked against FBI criminal history records but also against Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) immigration records. If the fingerprints match DHS records, Immigration Customs and Enforcement (“ICE”) determines if they should become involved in “enforcement action” – another name for deporting the person.

According to Assemblyman Ammiano’s discussion of the bill on his website, ICE has misled the public about Secure Communities, “whose real focus is more spin than safety. In fact seven in ten Californians deported under S-Comm had committed no crime or were picked up for minor offenses like traffic violations.”

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Today Immigration Customs and Enforcement (“ICE”) announced an arrangement with Imperial County Sheriff’s Department in which individuals during the booking process will have their biometric data checked with Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) data and FBI data to determine whether or not they are in the United States illegally. When a person’s fingerprints match those of someone in DHS’ biometric data system, ICE is automatically notified. ICE will then take steps to determine the individual’s immigration status and then take appropriate action after the offender completes his or her prison term.

ICE already has agreements with Los Angeles County and San Diego County. Nationwide coverage is expected by 2013.

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I previously wrote a post on the Department of State’s Social networking site promoting cultural exchange. Now the Department of Homeland Security is following with their social networking site called, “Our Border.” The purpose of the site is to facilitate conversation between people and groups interested in issues surrounding the southwest border. Groups that are established on the site include: Citizenship and Immigration Services (“CIS”), Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) and Comprehensive Immigration Reform. It is interesting that on the DHS social networking site, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform group has the most members.

Every day the site will feature a video from the DHS’ Youtube channel. (Look how far DHS has come!) Users can also post their own videos or posts. There are currently over 290 members of the networking site.

As a San Francisco bay area immigration attorney, I was kind of skeptical at first about a social networking site on border issues, but at looking at the posts, I have changed my mind. There appears to be some interesting discussion from a variety of people about border issues. There are also some good links to news stories on immigration topics. I joined the site and hope that it really will be a tool for open discussion. I will report back.