Opinion L.A.

Observations and provocations
from The Times' Opinion staff

« Previous Post | Opinion L.A. Home | Next Post »

Immigration: Will state attorney general support limiting Secure Communities?

California Attorney General Kamala Harris is expected to meet next week with Assemblyman Tom Ammiano to discuss a bill that would require the state to revamp its participation in a controversial immigration program.

Ammiano (D-San Francisco) introduced the Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools Act in February. The measure would require California to renegotiate an agreement with the Department of Homeland Security to place limits on Secure Communities, a controversial program launched in 2008 to track and deport dangerous criminals.

Currently, all counties in California must participate in program, which requires state and local police to check the immigration status of people who have been arrested and booked into local jails by matching fingerprints against federal databases for criminal convictions and deportation orders.

However, some counties have sought to opt out of the program because police are concerned that taking the role of enforcer will make it more difficult to build trust in immigrant communities that are already fearful of reporting crimes or providing crucial information.

Harris has not indicated whether she supports the measures that would automatically opt out all 58 counties in California. Cities and counties that want to participate would be required to opt in.

Civil and immigrant rights groups say the program isn’t catching dangerous criminals but rather netting those immigrants who are illegally in the U.S. but have no convictions.

About 60% of the 87,534 immigrants deported under the program had minor or no criminal convictions, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's statistics.

A hearing on the bill is scheduled in the Assembly Committee on Public Safety later this month.


Let police pursue criminals, not immigrants

-- Sandra Hernandez


Comments () | Archives (28)

The comments to this entry are closed.

B. Loewe

Tom Ammiano is making sure that these types of policies match California's standards. Californians deserve to have their rights protected.

Richard Coshnear

I hope that Ms. Harris agrees with Mr. Ammiano that this is much-needed legislation, in order to clarify the roles of state and local law enforcement agencies. Immigrants live in enough fear without having to worry that an arrest on a petty offense or no offense at all will lead to deportation, every time they work, drive, shop or walk their kids to school. Our national deportation policy, splitting families of people who work and provide so much for California, must not be allowed to taint the California state and local agencies.


I applaud Assemblymember Ammiano for introducing the TRUST Act. ICE has deceived the public and elected officials about the so called "Secure" Communities program, which is in reality an overbroad dragnet that sweeps up fathers, mothers, working people, even victims of domestic violence -- *instead* of tagging the serious offenses that are its alleged focus. The current system is just plain dishonest and out of balance. This bill will restore some common sense and balance by letting local governments decide what works best for them, and setting down some basic safeguards for those that do opt-in to this troubled program.

Mitchell Young

Why is it always reported taht 60% have 'no or minor' infractions? Aren't reporters supposed to be professionally curious? Can't they convince officials to suss out which is which -- are 100% of those 60% guilty of minor infractions, or 50% or what? For that matter, what is a 'minor infraction'? And do we really want folks who break laws * besides* the immigration and employment laws, perjury laws (when you sign an I-9, you are swearing you are eligible to work legally), many times identity theft laws. Is simple assault a minor infraction? Drunk driving? Vice charges? Had LA county complied with federal immigration law, after all, a man who had been arrested on the latter would not have killed Christmas story director Bob Clarke and, worse in a sense, his just starting out in life, 22 year old son Ariel. But when you are preening about your superior morality, and coincidentally making a buck as an immigration lawyer or trying jam the state with Democratic voters, what do a couple of dead white men matter?

Here is another riddle--wouldn't just about all of those deported have 'minor infractions' -- I'm pretty sure we don't deport murderers or rapists etc.


Good idea. Better yet, I'd love it if someone could clarify just exactly what SComm is. Law? Policy? Who thought it up? Who authorized it? Is it legal? (probably not).

I've got serious issues with the use of booking fingerprints as a basis for deportation. This is a really perverse incentive for profiling, false accusations, etc.

M.Y.: One of the few clear claims made about this program (or whatever it is) is that it's meant to remove serious criminals from the U.S. If that's really its purpose, why not hand off the prints at point of conviction? And yes, the U.S. does remove serious criminals, after conviction and sometimes after they've served jail time here.


The TRUST Act is about giving decision making power to local governments, who know their needs best, about this controversial program. Thank you Asm. Ammiano for introducing this pro-safety, pro-transparency proposal.

Mitchell Young

MdeG, since the program is only a few years old, it is unlikely anyone with a conviction over something like rape or murder would have been deported under it already.

Second, the program probably saves money be deporting what are, in fact, serious criminals who have been caught on lesser offenses, or plea bargained down, etc. People that come into serious contact with the 'justice' system are quite often guilty of stuff they are not actually arrested for, or headed for further and worse violations. That certainly was the case with Hector Velazquez-Nava, who had been through the 'justice' system on vice charges, was not deported, and then went on to kill Bob Clarke. Had secure communities been operative in LA, Clarke and his son would be alive today. As it is, Velazquez-Nava is still soaking up our resources as an inmate serving 6 years for vehicular manslaughter. And of course Kamala Harris herself has been first hand responsible for protecting illegal alien killers, look up the case of the Bologna family. Yeah, sure, ignoring illegal immigration is for the good of 'public safety'.

P Rios

Ms. Harris is doing right with meeting with Mr. Ammiano. Operation Secure Communities has already had devastating effects for working families in San Diego County and throughout the State of CA. Learning about how the TRUST Act will restore rights for local municipal governments ensures that decisions about its application are not made in haste. We need to restore greater accountability measures for how the federal government intends to enforce misguided dragnet operations. The TRUST Act restores decision-making power to local governments, providing for greater opportunities for people to participate democratically.


However, some counties have sought to opt out of the program because police are concerned that taking the role of enforcer will make it more difficult to build trust in immigrant communities that are already fearful of reporting crimes or providing crucial information.
What about building the trust of the native population? Don't we count, too? Or do we just have to suck it up if we feel unsafe around large concentrations of foreign-born people we know have broken at least one of our laws, and probably many others?

I guess our safety doesn't count. Only the concerns of illegal immigrants count in this state.


Isn't being an illegal immigrant a crime in itself?

How about we start indicting the Sedillo's, Perez', Villars and Newsomes who establish "sanctuaries" or continue to violate the US Constitution?

Geez Kalifornia - get a clue.

Slap Giant's jerseys on those clowns and send them off into barrio tonite.

Tom Wilson

I am happy to see that an effort is being made to allow local law enforcement to be out of the business of immigration enforcement, the responsibility of the federal government. This effort will go a long way toward helping to build confidence with local law enforcement and in turn make it easier for them to have the access to communities they need to be effective at keeping our neighborhoods safe.

I urge the Attorney General to support the bill and thank Assembly member Tom Ammiano for his vision and leadership!

Tom Wilson, Executive Director, Canal Alliance, San Rafael, CA

Mitchell Young

Interesting, there is obviously a concerted effort on the part of the immigration lobby to support this bill. Mr. Coshnear up there is an immigration attorney, B Loewe is party of some sort of 'Latino' ethnic lobby, and Mr. Wilson is part of the immigration -servicing industry, you know, the kind of people that pull down decent salaries paid by government grants in order to distribute yet more government money to immigrants they assure us 'pay their way in taxes."



The TEA PARTY caucus is here to stay and ordinary people are becoming members by thousands every day, connecting with the tens of millions already involved. One of the most paramount issues to hit American society is the illegal alien invasion. TEA PARTY members see this as the foremost problem to the working man, because they are taking jobs from blue and white collar workers. They have infiltrated the construction industry big time, as well as every service and entertainment industry and lowered wages for all Americans and legal residents in this category. Millions of US citizens are out of work, yet the business world still keeps attracting illegal aliens, displacing our own people. Currently we have become borrowers and own Communist China trillions of dollars and other foreign governments and investors, when not too far in our past we were the lenders. Today we have nearly 15 Trillion dollars and it must be cut away like a metastasizing cancer. THAT WHY I JOINED THE TEA PARTY.

Neither party has produced a strong room-solid fair trade agreement so Far. One Avenue to do this would be to stop the birthright citizenship law, which has a panacea of another hundred billion dollar giveaway. Dollars don't just go to supporting illegal alien welfare, such as education, free health care and a wealth of other benefits. There are undisclosed programs where money is being allocated and that is planned parent hood Next--we must strongly refund the original border fence 2006 law, that if you investigate it is a double fence, covering the distance from San Diego to Brownsville, Texas. Each 15 foot in height covered with concertina razor wire. However, this has been sabotaged by the Liberals in the Democratic Party. For a deterrent we must demand E-Verify with no options to any business within the jurisdiction of the United States. Every company must be audited over time, including long time workers and new hires. Secure Communities must also be a permanent tool, in every police arsenal. These are just a few of the enforcement innovations that must be considered mandatory. If the government fails to enforce these laws, then they must be exposed and removed.

The TEA PARTY will ensure that these issues are expedited, so we have immigration enforcement by ATTRITION. The TEA PARTY caucus will condemn any chance of passing immigration reform, Sanctuary States and cities revise or amend the instant birthright law for newborns of illegal aliens, and Any and all amnesties will not be enacted to satisfy corporate welfare or the shadow Leftist extremist hidden under the cloak of Democratic power. The border will be sealed shut and we will strictly enforce the "rule of Law" in the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, This law when enacted was chase down dirty businesses, with consequences of hefty fines, asset confiscation and imprisonment. However these criminals only received a slap on the hand from the Bush administration and even now the penalties are mild. There was no real oversight of the Guest Worker program, so that and temporary visa programs are rife with fraud.

The 1986 Simpson/Mazzoli bill has been a sickening joke played on the US Taxpayer. However the TEA PARTY will end this travesty in our laws and even leaders of the TEA PARTY caucuses will be held responsible or removed. Anybody who is--LEGALLY--in this country can become an active member of the local or national Tea PARTY. Join the ranks of the American people to stop our taxes going to supporting the illegal alien invaders, which match the war in Afghanistan and Iraq expenditures.

In future elections we must all be aware that illegal aliens are voting, using the absentee ballot to keep the Senator Harry Reid's in power, Registrations are being compromised in illegal family households, Read about illegal aliens voting at http://www.votefraud.org/ NumbersUSA for more facts, not rhetoric.
In school districts throughout America thousands of teachers have been receiving pink slips, because there is no money in the State treasuries to pay them; unless more taxes are extracted from the residents. This problem seems to be mostly centered in the larger cities, but wherever this grave situation is in effect, the outcome is the same? Unless the diverse State legislators can drag more taxes from the State residents, this situation will only get far worse. OUR SCHOOLS ARE FAILING BECAUSE OF THE NEGATIVE DIRECT INFLUENCE, OF MILLIONS OF ILLEGAL ALIEN CHILDREN THAT HAVE LITTLE COMPREHENSION OF ENGLISH, BUT UNDER FEDERAL LAW THEY MUST BE EDUCATED. But I see this issue in different light, which if the Public hadn't been royally skewered by the birthright citizenship law, this educating the world, would never have happened.

I have seen the overcrowded classrooms in California and the overwhelmed A similar situation has exposed itself in Indiana, where I moved too.Teachers as my own son was confronted with this chaos. No wonder California schools have failed in performance, whereas twenty years ago they topped exemplary learning.

The law mishandled in the interpretation of the 14th amendment, billions of dollars would not be going to educating children of illegal immigrants. This is not to mention the hundreds of thousands of individuals smuggled monthly across borders or enter America illegally or by other means. The definitive point being that there would be no need for the extraordinary amount of Teachers desired to teach the children of illegal aliens if they were not here. That billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars would be saved. Any prudent persons, who has not been brainwashed by the Leftists, must comprehend that our clogged classrooms, a need for bilingual teachers that our nation has been silently invaded. True born Americans and permanent residents have endured the “Politically Correct” doctrine for too long. That it’s facilitated this country plummeting into an apathetic chaotic mess. Where in some States police cannot question you on your legal status?

Maria  Marroquin

Esta propuesta legislativa nos da a los californianos la posibilidad de ubicarnos en el lado correcto de la historia, llevando el liderazgo en la busqueda de una comunidad mas segura.


The illegal immigration lobby is in full force on this one! You can just tell by the comments. Of course, if you benefit from the presence of illegals, you want them here. I would if I had a factory and wanted slave labor, sure. And, if I was running some illegal immigrant rights "organization", sure! And, if I was a politician (Democrat or Republican), sure I would want them here. However, if you are the American taxpayer, then you are getting screwed all the way to the bottom of your intestines, and without lube!


@Maria - The TRUST Act is about restoring some balance to a broken and dishonest system. It would help our local law enforcement work effectively with all crime witnesses and victims - and that benefits all of us. Like all Californians, immigrants want to live in safe communities. You might want to check out an interesting article from a few years back, "The El Paso Miracle" from the Reason Magazine - hardly a "liberal" news source.

"If you want to find a safe city, first determine the size of the immigrant population," says Jack Levin, a criminologist at Northeastern University in Massachusetts. "If the immigrant community represents a large proportion of the population, you're likely in one of the country's safer cities. "

And this is the concluding line: "El Paso's embrace of its immigrants might be a big reason why the low-income border town has remained one of the safest places in the country.

But programs like S-Comm make us all less safe because they undermine trust between immigrant communities and the police. That's why this bill is so important.


Californians need to uncover the truth behind ICE's deceptive S-Comm program. This program entangles local police in immigration enforcement - that's the Feds jobs and local police shouldn't be involved. We're all safer when our whole community can approach law enforcement to report crimes without fear. Good for Tom Ammiano to put pressure on Kamala Harris with his "TRUST Act."


@rjonny: Like all Californians, immigrants want to live in safe communities. You might want to check out an interesting article from a few years back, "The El Paso Miracle" from the Reason Magazine - hardly a "liberal" news source.
Reason Magazine is a libertarian publication that favors completely open borders with the entire world. Not exactly a credible source.
"If you want to find a safe city, first determine the size of the immigrant population," says Jack Levin, a criminologist at Northeastern University in Massachusetts. "If the immigrant community represents a large proportion of the population, you're likely in one of the country's safer cities. "
Sure, that's why overwhelmingly white, native-born majority states like Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Minnesota, Idaho, Iowa, and North Dakota have the lowest crime and homicide rates in the nation. Maine's homicide rate is less than one per 100,000; California's is 6 times that. Pull the other one dude. Here you go, the most "peaceful states" in the nation, as rated by an international "think tank" -- notice anything about 'em? No immigrants.

But programs like S-Comm make us all less safe because they undermine trust between immigrant communities and the police. That's why this bill is so important.
Sure, sanctuary programs make illegals "feel safe," why wouldn't they? They can rest assured that they can continue to break all kinds of laws and steal all kinds of welfare bennies from the natives without nosey policemen cramping their style. Sanctuary programs make the native-born feel much less safe, but we don't matter to the powers that be and to the selfish pigs in the open borders lobby except on April 15, when it comes time to pay for freebies and goodies for illegals. That's why I'm eventually headed for one of the low-crime, low-homicidestates I mentioned above.

If you're a native-born American in California, you are a second-class citizen and a piece of livestock who's only reason for existence is to pump out tax dollars to provide that "better way of life" that the illegals think they "deserve" so much.

If this bill passes, it only assures my exit from the land of my birth, taking thousands of dollars worth of taxes with me. Have fun living in a state without a white tax base--it worked so well for Detroit!


The illegal immigration lobby is in full force on this one! You can just tell by the comments.
Yup, Tom Wilson for example is a professional pro-illegal-alien "activist." We know him quite well in Northern California. As for Kamala Harris, this cow presided over the slaughter of an entire American family in "Sanctuary San Francisco" by a criminal illegal alien gangbanger with a huge rap sheet in the summer of 2008. Google "Bologna Family murders" for more info. The homicide rate in San Fran ballooned to triple what it is in New York under her late, unlamented tenure as AG there.

They are all being paid by La Raza or other open borders organizations to post here. The selfish pigs only care about one thing--getting more Mexicans and Central Americans into California, no matter how criminal or violent they are.

Mitchell Young

El Paso is an extreme exception, might even be due to a large amount of lithium in the drinking water. Let's grant some truth to the 'immigrants commit less crime' theory-- it makes sense, why move to commit crime? But the fact is that the children of Hispanic immigrants commit more crime than whites, but less crime than blacks. For whatever reason, blacks commit a lot of crime. So in major cities where blacks are effectively displaced by Hispanic immigrants (see South Central LA, for example), crime rates are lower than, say, North East cities which still have a lot of blacks.

California has always had a low African-American population, so what we are talking about is mostly 'Latinos' displacing whites. Comparing, say, two Orange County cities, the largely white Huntington Beach versus the overwhelmingly Mexican/Mexican American Santa Ana, you get about 5 times the rate of murder per 100,000 people, and about 3 times the rate of aggravated assault. See data from 2006, for example.


This is despite the 'edgy' and young crowd that lives in much of Huntington Beach. So while immigrants themselves may commit less crime (a remember, our data is incomplete precisely because of the reluctance of agencies to inquire into immigration status) , their children seem to get 'corrupted' by America and commit more than the traditional majority population.

And why would we want to become like El Paso in any other respect -- 25% of its population is below the poverty line, versus 15% for Texas as a whole. Household income is about 72% of the Texas norm.

Mitchell Young

I have to say that 'blacks commit a lot of crime' is a horrible way of portraying a social reality. of course the overwhelming majority of blacks don't commit any crime. The reality is that crime rates are higher among blacks than whites or 'Latinos' -- but that's no excuse for sloppy phrasing of a sensitive issue.


Here's what Kamala the Pro-Illegal Alien Incompetent Affirmative Action hire did to San Francisco:


Highest murder rate in 10 years.

Why should San Franciso have all the fun? Now the whole state can benefit from Kamala's "concern" for law and order! Maybe she'll go down to Dodger Stadium and thank the illegal alien gangbanging cholos who put Brian Stow into a coma for their "enrichment" of our lovely state!


Blah, blah, blah. I say get the feds out of our business! I'll support the TRUST act. Since when has arming the cops with more power ever been a good idea? Sounds like they'll just be swinging their guns around scaring poor folks under this "secure communities". I don't buy it.

Reshma Shamasunder

The TRUST Act is an important step forward in ensuring the public safety of all Californians. I applaud Assemblymember Ammiano for his courage on this issue, and encourage our state's policymakers and the Governor to support this important piece of legislation.


S-Comm undermines trust between police and immigrant communities, and that makes us all less safe. Local governments should be able to have a say! Thank you Asm. Ammiano for introducing this pro-safety, pro-transparency proposal.


More canned, pro-illegal-aline talking points supplied by La Raza.

Mitchell Young

Reshma Shamasunder isthe director of the immigration-lawyer financed 'California Immigration Policy Center', an offshoot of the 'Asian-Pacific Legal Center'. That is, yet another representative of the immigration-industrial complex.

It's great that folks are using their real names, but it is also disconcerting to see that a well financed immigration lobby, at least part of which is motivated by ethnic concerns, is so engaged in undermining US immigration law. Gives the lie to the oft-repeated statement that illegal immigrants are 'voiceless'.

glenn grab

"about 60% had minor or no criminal offences"...just their being in this country is a "criminal offence"...what the heck are you lying about?..



In Case You Missed It...



Recent Posts
Reading Supreme Court tea leaves on 'Obamacare' |  March 27, 2012, 5:47 pm »
Candidates go PG-13 on the press |  March 27, 2012, 5:45 am »
Santorum's faulty premise on healthcare reform |  March 26, 2012, 5:20 pm »


About the Bloggers
The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

In Case You Missed It...