California's TRUST Act (AB 4) is meant to limit cruel and costly immigration "hold" requests from federal officials in local jails that needlessly keep undocumented immigrants accused of certain less serious crimes and misdemeanors from being released on bond or bail. In the past, these people were held by local authorities even after they were acquitted in court. The holds, which stemmed from the Federal Secure Communities program, often resulted in extended jail time and deportation for many people who were only charged with traffic violations.
The TRUST Act went into effect on Jan. 1, 2014. All counties in California must follow this law. Later, recognizing that the Secure Communities program had opened the door to misinterpretation, misuse and abuse of arrest powers, President Obama in November 2014 pledged to end the Secure Communities program. And with California's TRUST Act, immigrant crime victims and witnesses should feel freer to cooperate with police without fear of deportation, thus rebuilding community confidence in local law enforcement that was badly damaged by the now defunct Secure Communities deportation dragnet.
But our work is not done. The TRUST Act still has many weaknesses that we must work to eliminate. And Secure Communities is being replaced by a program, called the Priority Enforcement Program, that is supposed to focus on deporting only violent offenders. If past practice is a guide, we must remain vigilant that that is the case.