HISTORIC: Gov. Brown Signs TRUST Act

October 7, 2013 By Jesse Melgar

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“Make no mistake, Immigration Reform is an LGBT issue!”

That was one of the core messages highlighted by Equality California Executive Director John O’Connor at the Los Angeles Equality Awards on October 5 – the day Governor Jerry Brown signed the historic TRUST Act.

With federal efforts at immigration reform stalled, California is taking proactive steps to move it forward, at least in the Golden State. Gov. Brown’s signature will prohibit law enforcement officials from detaining an individual on the basis of a United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) hold after that individual becomes eligible for release from custody, unless specified conditions are met.

“While Washington waffles on immigration, California’s forging ahead. I’m not waiting,” said Gov. Brown in a statement.

What’s the connection to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Californians? We know that LGBT people are more likely to be accosted, harassed and arrested by police for minor charges (including one case last year for riding a bicycle on the sidewalk), but that LGBT people are also more likely to be victims of crimes, including assault and domestic violence. In a recent survey of 220 transgender Latinas by the Williams Institute, 60 percent believed they had been stopped by law enforcement in the last year without breaking any law.

By ensuring that undocumented LGBT people won’t necessarily face deportation from routine, low-level law enforcement interaction, that means that LGBT people who are undocumented are more likely to report serious crimes, cooperate with law enforcement investigations and testify in court cases. It’s a victory for public safety and equity among a traditionally marginalized segment of California’s population.

The law, authored by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, is similar to one vetoed by Gov. Brown last year, but this version makes more explicit which crimes qualify as violent or serious, making the detainee ineligible for release. Some law enforcement officials, like Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, opposed the bill last year but supported it after Ammiano made changes.

The bill is a success for the increasingly collaborative coalition work between advocates of LGBT equality, immigrant rights and economic justice; organizations signing a letter of support included EQCA, Lambda Legal, the Transgender Law Center, Gender Justice LA, Immigration Equality, National Center for Lesbian Rights, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Out 4 Immigration, and the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence.

Gov. Brown also signed the following immigration-related bills this weekend:

  • AB 4 by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) – Prohibits a law enforcement official from detaining an individual on the basis of a United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) hold after that individual becomes eligible for release from custody, unless specified conditions are met.
  • AB 35 by Assemblymember Roger Hernández (D-West Covina) – Provides that immigration consultants, attorneys, notaries public, and organizations accredited by the United States Board of Immigration Appeals are the only individuals authorized to charge a fee for providing services associated with filing an application under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s deferred action program.
  • AB 524 by Assemblymember Kevin Mullin (D-South San Francisco) – Provides that a threat to report the immigration status or suspected immigration status of an individual or the individual’s family may induce fear sufficient to constitute extortion.
  • AB 1024 by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) – Allows applicants, who are not lawfully present in the United States, to be admitted as an attorney at law.
  • AB 1159 by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) – Imposes various restrictions and obligations on persons who offer services related to comprehensive immigration reform.
  • SB 141 by Senator Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) – Requires that the California Community Colleges and the California State University, and requests that the University of California, exempt a United States citizen who resides in a foreign country, and is in their first year as a matriculated student, from nonresident tuition if the student demonstrates financial need, has a parent or guardian who was deported or voluntarily departed from the U. S., lived in California immediately before moving abroad, and attended a secondary school in California for at least three years.
  • SB 150 by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) – Authorizes a community college district to exempt pupils attending community colleges as a special part-time student from paying nonresident tuition.
  • SB 666 by Senator Steinberg (D-Sacramento) – Provides for a suspension or revocation of an employer’s business license for retaliation against employees and others on the basis of citizenship and immigration status, and establishes a civil penalty up to $10,000 per violation.
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