Chicago and Washington D.C. have become the latest places to take a stand against federal efforts to get local police to alert them about undocumented immigrants they arrest or detain.
The Washington D.C. City Council passed a measure that, among other things, calls on local police to hold people they arrest on immigration detainers for no more than 24 hours, and to ensure that only those who have been convicted of serious crimes are turned over to federal agents.
In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and US Rep. Luis Gutierrez announced the introduction of the "Safe Families Ordinance,” which a press release by the congressman’s office said “clarifies and extends Chicago's existing policy of creating a firewall between federal civil immigration law enforcement and the relationship the City of Chicago, and especially the Chicago Police Department, has with its residents.”
The measure says police may alert federal officials about undocumented immigrants who are suspected of being linked to, or are convicted for, a serious crime.
Gutierrez, a Democrat who is chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said in the statement: “[The ordinance] targets police resources on criminals and threats and minimizes the amount of city resources devoted to holding non-criminals and non-threats, just because they were flagged in a federal database as possibly violating federal civil laws.”
Last Thursday, the California State Senate passed a bill that raises the bar for when police can act on immigration status.
These actions come on the heels of the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to leave standing a provision of Arizona's anti-illegal immigration law that requires police to check the status of people they stop for another reason, if they suspect the person is undocumented.
The California bill, known as AB1081, passed 21-13 along party lines and now moves to the state Assembly.
In all three locations, officials who were the driving forces for such measures said programs such as "Secure Communities" that call on local law enforcement to check the immigration status of an arrestee waste their resources and erode trust between police and immigrants.
"Secure Communities" is a program through which fingerprints of people arrested and held by police officers of participating agencies are shared with immigration officials.
Under California’s bill, known as the TRUST Act, officers would only refer people convicted of serious felonies to immigration officials. They would no longer detain lower-level offenders on immigration holds.
The bill has been dubbed "anti-Arizona" legislation, a reference to Arizona's "show me your papers" law recently upheld by the Supreme Court, which struck down three other provisions from Arizona's immigration law, known as SB 1070.
Proponents of strict immigration enforcement say police must work with federal agents because they should not turn a blind eye to illegal immigration. They have firmly opposed measures that have sought to provide a pathway to legalization for undocumented immigrants.
California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, sponsor of AB 1081, said the Senate vote showed "that California cannot afford to be another Arizona."