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Gov. Brown signs Trust Act, limiting holds on some undocumented immigrants

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a slate of immigration-related bills Saturday, including the Trust Act, which limits local law enforcement agencies' use of federal holds on undocumented immigrants booked into local jails.

The bill, AB 4 by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, prohibits local police agencies from holding individuals on federal immigration detainers unless they are charged with or convicted of a serious felony or certain misdemeanors, or if they are registered sex offenders. It creates a statewide standard for how local agencies comply with the federal Secure Communities program.

“Soon, immigrant Californians and their family members will have the confidence that minor or unjustified arrests for things like selling food without a permit or having dogs that bark too loudly will not lead to extended and costly detentions in our local jails for deportation purposes,” said Reshma Shamasunder, executive director of the California Immigrant Policy Center.

Brown vetoed a similar bill a year ago, but this year's bill was amended to increase the list of crimes that would keep immigrants in jail until federal immigration officials could take custody.

Immigration advocates have long argued that immigration holds — used in conjunction with the federal Secure Communities program — often ensnare U.S. citizens, legal immigrants and undocumented immigrants jailed for minor offenses or charges that later are dropped.

“It's incredible. When the rest of the country is falling behind on immigration reform, California is taking the lead,” said Jesus Guzman, a local immigration advocate who first heard the news on Twitter.

Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas has been a staunch opponent of the bill. Freitas said that if signed into law, the bill would force him to choose between violating the new state law or federal rules, which require local law enforcement officials to honor immigration detainers.

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