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AB 4 Makes It Harder to Deport Undocumented Immigrants

by Shawn M. Griffiths, published

California undocumented immigrants spirit of america /

The California State Assembly approved Assembly Bill 4 on Thursday, which would implement tougher restrictions on crimes local law enforcement officials can report to immigration agencies when the suspect in question is in the United States illegally. The bill would greatly impact federal efforts to enforce immigration laws in the state since federal immigration officials rely on the help of city police.

AB 4, also known as the "Trust Act," passed the Assembly in a mostly party-line vote, 44-22.

The bill would lay out specific crimes that would be exempt from the federal reporting requirement. This means city, county, and state law enforcement officials would be prevented from taking suspects into custody for the specific purpose of handing them over to the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for committing these crimes.

As reported by UT San Diego, supporters of the bill say undocumented immigrants are deported for minor crimes under current law, which threatens to break up families and leads to an overall distrust of local law enforcement in the surrounding community. Some residents are reluctant to report crimes because they fear deportation.

Opponents of the bill argue that some of the laws exempt under AB 4 are more serious than proponents of the bill believe. Last year, Governor Brown vetoed a similar piece of legislation that came across his desk for this reason. Specifically, Brown said that a bill similar to the Trust Act would prevent police officers from handing over immigrants arrested for drug-related offenses, weapons charges, or child abuse.

Not a single Republican voted for the Trust Act. It wasn't a purely party-line vote, however, as two Democrats  -- Ken Cooley (Rancho Cordova) and Al Muratsuchi (Torrance) -- voted against the bill.

AB 4 now moves on to the state Senate for consideration.

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