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Bill to prevent transfers from prison to ICE was vetoed: Advocates are not giving up

Posted by Sara Cooper | Sep 27, 2023 | 0 Comments

The fight from community officials and advocates for immigrants is not over, after a vetoed bill decided by Governor Gavin Newsom. This bill if tuned into law, would have given immigrants protections from federal authorities that can potentially further detain them or enforce deportations after released from prison.

State Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles), the bill's author, said she was disappointed in Newsom's decision to veto AB 1306, the HOME Act, saying collaboration with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement amounts to “double punishment” for immigrants who have earned parole.

“It was never the intention of the Legislature to exclude immigrants from restorative justice reform policies,” Carrillo said. “I am committed to re-introducing the policy and ending a dual system of justice in California that treats immigrants as less than and unworthy of a second chance.”

It would require CDCR to approve the return of going home for those who do not have citizenship status, if they are able to receive clemency from the governor or resentencing.

According to KQED, “Under current practice, prison officials alert federal authorities and arrange to transfer noncitizen inmates to immigration custody upon their release. Even longtime legal residents with green cards can spend months or years in ICE detention, and many are eventually deported.”

The veto occurred last Friday with a statement issued regarding the decision made by Newsom:

“The bill would prevent information sharing and coordination upon a person's release from CDCR custody for a significant number of people and, as a result, would impede CDCR's interaction with a federal law enforcement agency charged with assessing public safety risks,” he wrote. “I believe current law strikes the right balance on limiting interaction to support community trust and cooperation between law enforcement and local communities. For this reason, I cannot sign this bill.”

There has been a call-out towards Newsom's veto with advocates claiming this was to protect his prospers in becoming a president someday. A statement from the ICE Out of California Coalition reads in part: “We denounce Gov. Newsom's cruel, callous and cowardly decision to veto this common-sense solution. When policy-making is driven by vanity and crass ambition rather than sound judgment, all Californians suffer.”

The HOME Act is more limited than a different bill last year, the VISION Act, which would have blocked all transfers from prison to ICE. That bill narrowly failed in the state Legislature last year in August. The HOME Act however passed in both the state Assembly and Senate this year.   It would have shielded incarcerated people from ICE if they qualified for release under criminal justice reform bills signed by Newsom and former Gov. Jerry Brown, including:

  • Elderly people or those suffering severe medical conditions.
  • People whose crimes were committed in their youth and have already served long sentences.
  • People whose crimes were a direct result of suffering sexual assault or domestic violence.

Oregon, Illinois, and Washington D.C. have been the only states to have already restrict transfers from prison to ICE via legislation.

Opposition was not enforced for the HOME Act as it was for the VISION Act last year, by police departments for example.

According to KQED, “In California, sanctuary laws prevent local police and sheriffs from cooperating in immigration enforcement much of the time. But there's a broad exemption for prisons. CDCR documents recently obtained under public records laws by the ACLU of Northern California show that in just two months last year California turned over 200 people to ICE after they'd served their time in prison. In addition, the records show, incarcerated people who have been flagged for ICE are barred from many re-entry programs in prison.”

“The Governor may claim that he supports rehabilitation and second chances,” said the ICE Out of California Coalition. “Yet he cannot praise rehabilitation in one breath, but condone the racist targeting of immigrants for detention and deportation in the next.”

There is still hope with another ongoing bill, the Mandela Act or AB 280, a bill to restrict the use of solitary confinement in jails, prisons and ICE facilities. It has been switched to a two year bill with thoughts that Newsom could potentially veto it.  

So far, it has been passed by the state Assembly and Senate but amendments have not been agreed on by both houses. There is opposition for this one by law enforcement which isn't a shock, but those who support it are greatly preparing conversation with Newsom soon in order to keep it ongoing in 2024.

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