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Immigration advocates want fewer deportations from local jails


Concerned that opponents will block or gut a federal immigration bill in the Congress, Sonoma County immigration advocates are now marshaling efforts to pass a bill in Sacramento that would reduce deportations of people held in local jails.

They are lobbying local officials to support the TRUST Act, which would prohibit local police agencies from holding individuals on federal immigration detainers unless they are charged or convicted of a serious felony or certain misdemeanors.

Correctional Deputy Jason Esquibel takes a fingerprint of a male as he is booked into the Sonoma County Jail in 2011. Under the the Secure Communities program, all fingerprints are reviewed for immigration irregularities. (John Burgess / PD)

Correctional Deputy Jason Esquibel takes a fingerprint of a male as he is booked into the Sonoma County Jail in 2011. Under the the Secure Communities program, all fingerprints are reviewed for immigration irregularities. (John Burgess / PD)

However, advocates say a big obstacle is Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas, who opposes the legislation because he said it would force him to defy federal regulations.

The immigration holds are a key tool used in implementing the federal government’s controversial Secure Communities program, which critics say casts a wide net that sometimes ensnares U.S. citizens, legal immigrants and undocumented immigrants jailed for minor offenses or charges that are later dropped.

Freitas was out of town on vacation this week and could not be reached for comment. Assistant Sonoma County Sheriff Lorenzo Dueñas said the sheriff has not changed his position since last summer and still opposes the state legislation.

Under Secure Communities, fingerprints and other biometric data of every person booked into county jails are checked against federal law enforcement databases and those of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Federal immigration officials are alerted in cases where an individual has a possible immigration violation.

In such cases, ICE agents seek a federal detainer, or immigration hold, of up to 48 hours beyond the time when a individual would be otherwise released from jail.

The TRUST Act, authored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, would limit immigration holds to serious offenders. An immigrant arrested on suspicion of a “straight misdemeanor” or a prior federal deportation order would not be subject to an immigration hold.

The legislation is similar to a bill vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown last summer. The new bill was approved by the Assembly in May and currently awaits a vote in the state Senate.

Carlos Alcalá, a spokesman for Ammiano, said the legislation was recently amended in the Senate Public Safety committee to address a number of concerns raised by Brown.

“In June we got something from the Governor’s Office saying this is what we want,” Alcalá said.

Amendments essentially increase the number of crimes for which local sheriffs can hold people under ICE requests, he said.

The bill, AB 1081, can be taken up for a vote anytime after senators return from recess on Aug. 12, Alcalá said.

“We think we’re in a good position to pass it in the Senate and send to the governor,” he said.

Richard Coshnear, a local immigration attorney and member of the Committee for Immigrant Rights of Sonoma County, said campaigning for passage of the TRUST Act is becoming more imperative with U.S House Republicans lining up to either kill the federal immigration overhaul or make it more “draconian.”

“Even in the (U.S.) Senate we’re not very happy with the legislation being proposed,” he said.

Millions of undocumented immigrants would likely not qualify and end up at greater risk of deportation through stepped-up enforcement efforts both in the workplace and at the border, Coshnear said.

Even those who would qualify under the Senate bill are today being deported, he said.

“We have decided we want to focus on the deportations issue and press Sacramento and Washington to make life livable for people who are now undocumented and for people who may remain undocumented despite a reform bill,” Coshnear said.

“This, of course, will impact families where some are in and others are out,” he said.

16 Responses to “Immigration advocates want fewer deportations from local jails”

  1. Michael Sheehan says:


    What nonsense. It’s Democrats who’ve been convicted of voter fraud in Indiana, for example. Obama was found to have been on the ballot fraudulently. And remember the 22,000 to 0 vote totals in some Philadelphia precincts? Talk about fraud.

    You ignore facts, but make false claims based on nothing. Voter ID requirements in every state would help prevent voter fraud, which is real. Voter suppression is made-up BS to divert from the actual problem.

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  2. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    That’s COUNTRY not county. We’re good in this county because I work the polls and I know.

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  3. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Michael Sheehan- I know my history. And from my WHITE PERSPECTIVE there is way too much prejudice against minorities in this country. You can tell by the way the Republicans are trying to fix the vote across the county to keep minorities from voting since the predominantly vote Democrat. It’s Jim Crow all over again and it makes me angry. Oh, and they say they are doing it because illegals are voting fraudulently when there is absolutely NO TRUTH to this and fraud is close to non existant.

    Ask the farmers in Alabama how they like their produce rotting in their fields because they have no one to pick.

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  4. Skippy says:

    How odd. Some folks seem to think that white people are the source of all the world’s ills.

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  5. Michael Sheehan says:


    You need both history and civics lessons. And knock off with your racist comments about “white people.”

    1) Spain stole the land from the native Americans, as the Spanish made their way up into the southwest and what 16th century Spanish explorers named “California.” And the US fought wars with Mexico and took territory. Ever hear of the Bear Flag revolt in Sonoma in 1846? In summary, the Spaniards took land from the Indians; the Mexicans took it from the Spanish; the Texans took their province from the Mexicans partly in resistance to the brutal General Santa Ana, and the Americans took some northern lands from the Mexicans during the War that ended in 1848.

    2) Today, the US is a sovereign nation with a Constitution & defined borders, and no one has a “right” to be here, unless they are a native born citizen or have proper paperwork, such as a Visa. What your “perspective” is does not matter – the law is what matters.

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  6. Reality Check says:

    “I think so many white people forget that California was once part of Mexico . . . ”

    True, but for all of about 25 years. For about 150 years before than it was owned by Spain. And of course before that for a few thousand years by various native tribes. Such is the history of practically all land on earth.

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  7. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    I think so many white people forget that California was once part of Mexico and populated by American Indians and Mexicans.

    From my perspective Mexicans have a right to be here. It’s because they are poor that people are upset. If they are Canadians it’s COME ON DOWN. We moved west and moved in.

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  8. James Bennett says:

    The influence morphing our immigration, political, health care, economic, trade, civil and property rights is from corporate globalist interests.
    Their insideous permeation of our government on an international, national and local level (ICLEI) is what’s goin’ on.

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  9. Follower says:

    There are way too many “Republicans” chanting the “broken immigration” lie to blame this one on Obama.

    This isn’t a Republican –vs- Democrat issue.
    This is a citizens –vs- politicians issue and the ONLY WAY the citizens will ever have any say in this is if we STOP RE-ELECTING these people.

    As I see it, the only hope for “we the people” ever getting our Government back from the machine would be a couple/few election cycles with NO incumbents. NOT ONE!
    We would have to flush out all the cronies with all their political debts and favors Republican AND Democrat.
    But that’s never going to happen because the Politicians have perfected the art of playing the people’s emotions for votes.

    You don’t DARE vote out Nancy Pelosi because she has spent years gaining power, power she uses to bilk the Federal Treasury for her constituents. Voting her out means voting away all those years of favors and power, starting fresh with someone who is owed nothing and thus, has no power to bring home the bacon.

    It’s “Voter Greed” that sends her back election after election.

    Contrary to another popular lie, Republicans DON’T have the market cornered on “greed”. They just go about inflicting their greed in a different way.
    Republicans want to convince you to hand over your wealth. Democrats want to use the Government to FORCE you to hand over your wealth.

    And they will both continue to do so as long as they know they’ll keep getting re-elected.

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  10. James Bennett says:

    Follower: In my opinion you are correct.
    We already have laws of the books, we just need to enforce them.

    However Obama is deliberately softening our stance on enforcement.

    As I’ve stated this is all part of the Agenda.

    Obama is a change agent for UN globalists. In fact, he is a chair on the UN Security Council. Which should be a conflict of interest.

    Just like our communities taking directive from a UN sponsored NGO.

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  11. Follower says:

    “Fix immigration reform”?

    There’s nothing to “fix”.

    Our immigration system is NOT “BROKEN”! It’s a lie.

    Our boarders ARE “closed”.

    English is already the “official language” of the United States.

    We already HAVE LAWS that deal with every aspect of Illegal Immigration. We just don’t enforce them.

    So what is “immigration Reform” going to “fix”?
    What good could possibly come of more laws that we don’t enforce?

    More promises that are never kept?

    MORE MONEY to grow a law enforcement bureaucracy with solid track record of not enforcing laws?

    As long as we keep re-electing these lying, thieving, pukes, no “reform” is going to change anything other than the level of OUR ever-expanding tax obligation.

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  12. Tired of It says:

    Language, borders, culture. These open border let them all come in people, want California turned into another Mexican province just as the dictator of Iraq wanted Kuwait made the 19th province of Iraq. And they are succeeding.

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  13. Beef King says:

    A person willing to break the law to enter the US, and then convicted of breaking our law and is incarcerated as a result, is an individual that we don’t want in our country.

    There is no logic to feeding, housing, and providing medical care to a person who is not willing to be a contributing member of our society.

    Fix immigration reform asap for those who respect our laws, then close the borders and send the criminals back from whence they came.

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  14. R.B. Fish says:

    “Draconian” means enforcing existing laws. Deport all illegal immigrants for a safer and more prosperous society.

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  15. Follower says:

    As an “Immigration Advocate” I take offense at the premise of this article.

    People who demand Law Enforcement look the other way when criminals break our Immigration laws ARE NOT “Immigration Advocates”.

    They are ILLEGAL Immigration Advocates.

    You can keep saying “the sky is red” all you want but some of us have sense enough to look to the sky and see for ourselves.

    …the rest of us vote to re-elect.

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  16. James Bennett says:

    Why so many rights, perks and entitlements to immigrants?

    Many are beautiful people just trying to do the best they can for themselves, that’s not the point, don’t our public officials work for us?.

    Look at history, all the oppressors would seek to make everyone the same. The lack of immigration enforcement, out sourcing jobs, etc. is Agenda 21. It’s about bringing down wages, stressing infrastructure and eroding our economy and quality of life. Wealth redistribution, all part of The Plan.

    Secretary of HUD Shaun Donovan is busy mapping all cities in America for “Racial Mapping”. Where to employ eminent domain and various manipulations to socio-economically and racially integrate the everyone. Regional plans like our Plan Bay Area will be a key instrument.

    What the hell is going on, who do these traitors work for?

    By allowing themselves to be compromised and incentivized by grants, career advancement and keeping their over paid gigs “sustainable” they have sold us out.

    On a local level, all the way up.

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