August 24, 2012 1:11 PM
SACRAMENTO (AP) â" Lawmakers on Friday sent Gov. Jerry Brown a bill that would protect illegal immigrants who commit minor infractions from deportation.
AB1081, known as the Trust Act, would allow California to opt out of some parts of the federal Secure Communities program. That program requires local law enforcement officers to check the fingerprints of people they arrest against a federal immigration database.
Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, said the policy wastes resources and drives a wedge between immigrants and law enforcement agencies.
"Victims of crime, including domestic violence, are fearful of risking separation from their families and deportation," he said.
Several GOP lawmakers spoke against the bill, saying it would take away an important tool for ridding California of law-breakers.
"This has become the be-kind-to-criminals Legislature," said Assemblyman Jim Nielson, R-Gerber.
AB1081 passed the Assembly on a party-line, 44-23 vote after a lengthy debate.
As it became more heated, Ammiano said some of the bill's Republican opponents had "been in the sun too long building that silly fence," drawing a reprimand from Democratic house leadership.
Under the Trust Act, local law enforcement officers would run the fingerprint checks only for serious, violent offenders.
The bill has been dubbed "anti-Arizona" legislation, a reference to that state's immigrant identification law.
The federal government has deported tens of thousands of people under the Secure Communities program, with the majority coming from California. More than half of Californians deported under the program had no serious convictions.