A bill modeled after an Orange County judge’s attempts to force the deportation of illegal aliens convicted of drug-related or violent crimes cleared the state Assembly on Wednesday and its author predicted that it will be signed into law by the governor.
“I would be flabbergasted if the governor vetoed it,” said state Sen. John Seymour (R-Anaheim), soon after the Assembly approved his bill by a 42-0 vote.
The measure, which Seymour expects to easily win final legislative passage this week in the Senate, has two central features:
--It would require the state Department of Corrections to refer to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service the names of all drug-related and violent felons serving time in California prisons and whose appeals had been exhausted. The INS would then screen the names to determine whether the felon was a legal resident, or deportable as an illegal alien.
--It would give county trial court judges the authority to refer the names of similar drug-related or violent felons to the INS. Again, it would be up to the INS to evaluate the residency status of each felon.
Seymour said that his bill was inspired by the efforts of Orange County Superior Court Judge David O. Carter, who for 20 months has invited INS agents into his Santa Ana courtroom to identify aliens convicted of a range of felonies and probation violations.
Statistics compiled by Carter’s court staff show that in 1989, about 35%--834 of the 2,366 offenders screened by the INS--were identified as illegal aliens.
Both Seymour and Carter, a Democrat who once ran unsuccessfully for Congress, said Wednesday that they hoped the legislation will lighten the burdens of clogged county probation departments and the state prison and parole systems.
“Our taxpayers should not be required to pay for those illegal aliens who reek havoc and victimize our citizens,” Seymour said. “If they are convicted, they should serve their time and then be sent back to the country they came from. There should be no parole or probation.”
And although both Seymour and Carter said Wednesday that they hoped the legislation would encourage the INS to shift its emphasis to deporting convicted felons instead of hunting suspected aliens at job sites, opponents of the measure expressed skepticism.
“I don’t think the legislation will have the effect of re-routing the priorities of the INS,” said Francisco Lobaco, a lobbyist in Sacramento for the American Civil Liberties Union.
Lobaco said the ACLU does not like the measure because it promotes “the inaccurate image of the immigrant as a major source of crime.” Nevertheless, Lobaco said he was pleased that both Seymour and the measure’s principal co-author, Assemblyman Mike Roos (D-Los Angeles), agreed to amendments which he said guard against due-process infringements.
A spokesman for the INS in Los Angeles said he could not comment on the legislation, Senate Bill 1745, without having read it.
Carter, meanwhile, said that the most important question in assessing the bill’s potential impact will be whether it prompts the INS to vigilantly screen and seek deportation of those illegal aliens convicted of drug-related or violent acts.