Anti-deportation bill advances as immigrants rally

California Highway Patrol officers stand guard outside Gov. Jerry Brown's Capitol office, where activists are rallying and hoping to meet with Brown. A law that makes it harder to deport illegal immigrants was approved by the Senate.
(Chris Megerian / Los Angeles Times)
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SACRAMENTO -- Undocumented immigrants rallied in the Capitol on Tuesday to support legislation aimed at reducing deportations, as California lawmakers continued tweaking the bill in hopes of winning Gov. Jerry Brown’s support.

The measure (AB 4), known as the Trust Act, would limit local law enforcement from working with federal authorities to detain immigrants who are in the country illegally unless they commit certain crimes.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), the bill’s author, said overzealous deportations have been devastating to immigrant families.


“Communities across the state are losing trust in law enforcement and don’t want to report crimes because of [immigrants’] illegal status,” he said.

Brown vetoed a similar bill last year, saying too many criminals would be exempted from deportation.

Ammiano agreed to make changes, and the modified proposal would allow local law enforcement to work with federal authorities in a greater number of situations. A Senate committee approved the bill on Tuesday.

The assemblyman and the governor don’t yet see eye to eye on everything. For example, Ammiano’s proposal would leave more discretion in the hands of judges rather than district attorneys, according to the assemblyman’s spokesman, Carlos Alcala.

When asked if Brown supports the legislation, spokesman Evan Westrup said the administration is “continuing to work constructively with the author and other stakeholders on this important bill.”

While the Senate committee considered the bill on Tuesday, a group of activists staged a rally inside and outside the governor’s Capitol office. About a dozen, some undocumented immigrants themselves, sat on the floor of the office’s lobby.


Some activists said the group inside was willing to risk arrest, even deportation.

“They want to meet with Gov. Brown. He’s previously met with the sheriff’s association, with [immigration authorities],” said Myisha Arellano of the Immigrant Youth Coalition. “But he hasn’t met with the people most affected.”

Westrup said the governor’s office was arranging a meeting between the activists and staff members.


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Twitter: @chrismegerian