By Joe Guzzardi
October 18, 2013
When Governor Jerry Brown signed the Trust Act, he ended the partnership established between local law enforcement and Immigration and Customers Enforcement authorities that the federal Secure Communities program established. Under Secure Communities, jails submit arrestees’ fingerprints to both criminal and immigration databases to identify deportable aliens.
Brown’s signature made formal what had been for months an unofficial policy in several California counties. Santa Clara, San Francisco and Los Angeles counties beat Brown to the punch by embracing Trust Act non-deportation provisions even before it became law. In December, 2012 Attorney General Kamala Harris declared Secure Communities optional. Harris’ statement prompted Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca to announce that he would no longer honor federal immigration law.
One of the arguments Secure Communities’ critics advance is that it deters illegal immigrants from reporting crime. As Baca spokesman Lee Whitmore told the Los Angeles Times, “The last thing we want is victims to be frightened to come forward.”
As always with illegal immigrants’ apologists, the facts don’t support their claims. In depth research refutes Whitmore’s disingenuous deception that illegal immigrant victims are too fearful of deportation to report crimes committed against them or their neighbors.
Last month, the Center for Immigration Studies published a report which, based on unimpeachable sources, summarized the relationship between various ethnic groups and local police. The CIS analysis concluded that the so called “chilling effect” barrier between immigrants and law enforcement that Trust Act advocates like Whitmore claim discourages crime reporting is non-existent.
First, the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ data show no significant differences in crime reporting among ethnic groups. Generally, Hispanics are slightly more likely to report crime than other groups with Hispanic females being the most trusting of police.
Second, the University of Virginia and the Police Executive Research Foundation found no decline in crime reporting by Hispanics even after local police implemented a program to screen offenders for immigration status and to refer aliens to ICE for removal.
Third, CIS found that the most commonly mentioned reason immigrants don’t report crime is not distrust of immigration authorities but limited English (47 percent), cultural differences (22 percent) and a lack of understanding of the U.S. criminal justice system (15 percent).
Several days before he signed the Trust Act, Brown also signed AB 60 which allows aliens to apply for driver’s licenses and AB 1024 which will grant illegal immigrants the right to practice law. These measures blur, if not eradicate, the distinction between California’s citizens and its illegal immigrants.
Governor Jerry Brown is really Dictator Jerry Brown. Federal laws that he doesn’t agree with, he defies. Bad bills that arrive on his desk which put Californians at risk, he signs with impunity.
Brown has nothing to fear from Attorney General Eric Holder. In 2010 Arizona passed AB 1070 that gave permission to police to ask for proof of residency from individuals legitimately detained on other charges. Holder sued Arizona.
Unfortunately, the chance that Holder will intercede on behalf of millions of Californians unprotected from deportable aliens is zero. For Holder, protecting illegal immigrants’ perceived rights takes precedent over his sworn constitutional duty to uphold all federal laws, including those related to immigration.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1986. Contact him at [email protected]