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California Governor Vetoes Immigration Bill

Common Dreams staff

Gov. Jerry Brown, right, discusses a bill with Legislative Affairs Secretary Gareth Elliott, left, and Legislative Deputy Brian Putler, at his Capitol office Friday, Sept. 21, 2012, in Sacramento, Calif. (Photo: Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press.)

California Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday vetoed an immigration bill that would have curtailed a program proponents say has "horrifically impacted our families, safety and communities" since its implementation.

The bill would have limited state law enforcement's ability to hold undocumented immigrants past the time they would otherwise have been released, until immigration officials arrived.

Advocates for immigrants said the bill would have brought "tremendous relief" to the community," but Brown said the bill was "fatally flawed" and he didn't want to interfere with cooperation between local law enforcement and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials.

Currently, under the "Secure Communities" program, federal immigration officials can ask local law enforcement officials to detain undocumented immigrants up to 48 hours even after they have been cleared for release, until ICE officials arrive.

The TRUST Act would have limited sheriffs' interactions with federal immigration officials, The Huffington Post reported, and barred law enforcement from holding undocumented immigrants unless they had been convicted of a serious or violent felony.

Under the Secure Communities program, more than 75,000 residents in California alone have been deported to a foreign country as a result of federal policies, according to The National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, and in 2011 alone, more than 46,000 U.S. children were left orphaned.

The NLGSFBAC also reported that the law encourages racial profiling, "as Latino men and other young men of color are disproportionately affected. According to a study released by the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy and UC Berkeley, Latinos have made up a disproportionate 93% of those detained through S-Comm, though they account for only 75% of the undocumented population in the U.S."

In his veto, Brown wrote that while he supports comprehensive immigration reform, the bill was "fatally flawed." He said he would work to address the flaws," according to The Huffington Post.

Reshma Shamasunder, the executive director of the California Immigrant Policy Center, argued that Brown "has doomed thousands of immigrants including domestic violence survivors, food vendors, and people who for minor offenses are separated from their loved ones and detained unjustly in local jails, solely to feed an out-of-control deportation program, The Chicago Tribune said.

Brown did sign a bill to allow young undocumented immigrants to acquire drivers licenses, which are necessary in California to vote. However, advocates for immigration rights argue that right is already guaranteed under a new federal program, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Carlos Amador of Dream Team Los Angeles said Brown had "waited until the eleventh hour to veto the most … impactful bill that would (have brought) tremendous relief for the immigrant community, according to The Los Angeles Times. "But he decided to sign a symbolic and hollow bill that doesn't bring anything more than what we already had … to apply for a driver's license."

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