CA Dems to Feds: Hands Off Our Immigrants
California fights back against a federal program that deports crime victims and minor offenders.
On February 13, Jaime Aguilar was standing at 16th and Mission streets in San Francisco when a police officer approached him for holding an open beer can. The officer asked him if he had a California ID, and when he replied that he didn't (he's an undocumented worker from El Salvador), he was arrested and taken to a nearby police station. He was then transferred to the police station on nearby Bryant Street, and within 13 hours, a man with a previously clean record—the father of two children—was wearing an ankle bracelet, about to be deported for drinking beer in public.
Aguilar, like hundreds of Californians, had been ensnared by a federal immigration program called "Secure Communities," or S-Comm. While Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) purported to target dangerous criminals when it began implementing the program a year and a half ago, recent data (PDF) reveal how the majority of those targeted in the state have committed minor crimes, such as traffic offenses, or no crimes at all. Because the program's results have differed so markedly from its declared intentions, state lawmakers have been pushing to pass a bill that would allow counties to opt out of S-Comm.