California Legislature Approves Bill that Endangers Public Safety and Risks Federal Funding over Criminal Aliens

Aug 29, 2012, 17:32 ET from FAIR

Gov. Brown Must Veto AB 1081, Urges FAIR

WASHINGTON, Aug. 29, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The California Legislature sent a bill to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk that grants state and local law enforcement the option to ignore all U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers and specifically prohibits them from honoring detainers unless an illegal alien has been convicted of, or charged with, "a serious or violent felony." AB 1081, also known as the Trust Act, is intended to impede the federal government's ability to take custody of and remove criminal aliens it deems to be deportable.

According to a spokesman, Gov. Brown has not decided whether he will sign or veto AB 1081, even though as California's attorney general, he firmly opposed a similar policy adopted by San Francisco. The legislation is also vocally opposed by sheriffs across the state who threaten to ignore the Trust Act if it is signed into law. Among those vowing to continue honoring requests by ICE to take custody of deportable aliens is Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca who stated that his department would "adhere to federal law, so we'd honor ICE holds."

"In approving AB 1081, the California Legislature has demonstrated, yet again, that protecting illegal aliens takes precedence over every interest in the state, including the safety and security of law abiding citizens," charged Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). "AB 1081 will put deportable criminals back onto the streets of communities all across California. Gov. Brown must uphold his most essential obligation to the people of California and veto this dangerous and unprincipled bill."

Enactment of AB 1081 presents a challenge to the Obama administration, which has staked its entire immigration enforcement strategy on the removal of criminal aliens. In an August 23 letter to FAIR's executive director, Morton reiterated that jurisdictions that ignore ICE detainers "are undermining public safety in their communities," noting that ICE has documented serious crimes committed by deportable aliens who have been released rather than remanded to ICE.

Morton also reiterated previous threats to cut State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) funding to jurisdictions that refuse to honor ICE detainers. In his letter, Morton said that it is "fundamentally inconsistent" for jurisdictions that are "thwarting ICE's efforts to remove" criminal aliens to seek reimbursement for the cost of incarcerating criminal aliens. California is the largest recipient of federal reimbursement dollars.

In Fiscal Year 2011, California received $96 million in SCAAP funding from the federal government to offset the costs of incarcerating criminal illegal aliens. "By signing AB 1081, Gov. Brown risks losing nearly $100 million in federal funding at a time when California faces crippling budget shortfalls. What's worse, he would be sacrificing this money in order to protect illegal aliens who have committed crimes in California and who pose future risks to public safety.

"When it comes to illegal aliens, the California Legislature has clearly lost all sense of reason. If Gov. Brown will not veto AB 1081 and protect the public interest, the federal government must step-in to ensure that California cooperates with the federal government in immigration enforcement by honoring ICE detainers," Stein concluded.

About FAIR
Founded in 1979, FAIR is the country's largest immigration reform group.  With over 250,000 members nationwide, FAIR fights for immigration policies that serve national interests, not special interests.  FAIR believes that immigration reform must enhance national security, improve the economy, protect jobs, preserve our environment, and establish a rule of law that is recognized and enforced. Visit FAIR's website at