Brown Protects Certain Youth from Deportation, Even as Few are Being Deported

Published on September 28th, 2015

This month, Gov. Jerry Brown signed yet another bill that protects illegal immigrants from deportation. Assembly Bill 899 requires that records for those in the juvenile justice system remain confidential “regardless of the juvenile’s immigration status,” and also prohibits the disclosure and dissemination of juvenile information to federal officials unless a juvenile court grants permission.

Young man sitting at his dinner table
Brown’s new law protects detained juveniles from deportation.

AB 899 upholds juveniles’ right to confidentiality which some California agencies had allegedly jeopardized when they referred suspected illegal aliens to immigration authorities. Probation officials disputed the suggestion that they have acted improperly. They claim that such referrals are legally sound, and cite the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act that authorizes their right to communicate and cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and also supersedes state law.

When a reporter called me for a comment on AB 899, I said that I viewed the law as another in a long list of pro-illegal immigrant legislation Brown has signed in the last few years. I added that in the end I saw AB 899 as largely symbolic because so few are being deported.

My reply set off a series of email exchanges in which the reporter defended AB 899 as valuable and a law that will spare youths from unjust deportation. He told me of a case in which an illegal alien teenager had been arrested for prostitution, and even though the state recognized her as a sexual abuse victim, she “faced deportation” when her unlawful immigration status became known.

When I asked if she was actually deported, I got no answer and concluded that she had not been removed. Immigration advocates often claim that certain circumstances will result in “facing deportation” or “being placed in deportation proceedings.” But that is obviously a long way from being physically deported.

An Associated Press investigation based on Department of Homeland Security internal reports not available to the public found that the Obama administration is on a pace in 2015 to deport fewer aliens than at any time during the last decade, proof that AB 899 is largely window dressing.

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