Catholic San Francisco


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Brown vetoes deportations bill
October 2nd, 2012
By George Raine

Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed a bill backed by California Catholic bishops that was designed to reduce the likelihood that undocumented residents will be deported following their arrest. Advocates for the legislation said families are being torn apart sometimes for very minor offenses.

The bill, known as the Trust Act, by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, was endorsed by the California Catholic Conference, which is the voice of the state’s bishops. It would have directed law enforcement officers to comply with a federal request that undocumented people be detained following arrest to accommodate deportation action only if the arrested person had been convicted or was charged with a serious or violent crime.

The governor announced on Sept. 30 that he was vetoing the bill. He said he cannot sign the bill because the list of offenses codified in the bill “is fatally flawed because it omits many serious crimes,” Brown wrote in his veto message. He listed a few that are missing: child abuse, drug trafficking and selling weapons. “I believe it’s unwise to interfere with a sheriff’s discretion to comply with a detainer issued for people with these kinds of troubling criminal records.”

Patricia Ribeiro, the parish outreach and organizing coordinator in the Office of Public Policy and Social Concerns at the Archdiocese of San Francisco, noted that last week Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles called on Brown to side with love, not hate, by making the Trust Act law.

She also noted that the legislation would have corrected the deeply flawed S-Comm system, which began with a sensible goal of identifying people with serious convictions but has instead become the principal funnel to deportations in the state. Seven out of 10 of the individuals already deported under this program have either committed a crime as petty as selling tamales without a license, or no crime at all.

“We are extremely disappointed Gov. Brown missed the opportunity to change the course of an immigration system that criminalizes and dehumanizes communities and tears apart families. Gov. Brown vetoed the bill but he cannot veto human resiliency. We call upon our faith in numbers to lead us to justice,” said Ribeiro.

Also, Gov. Brown on Sept. 30 signed a bill, supported by the bishops, that gives inmates who were juveniles when sentenced to life terms without the possibility of parole a chance to petition a court for a reduced sentence after serving at least 15 years. The California bishops said, “Sentencing a juvenile to life without parole is cruel, unfair and unnecessary. It means giving up on a youngster before he or she ever reached adulthood.”

The practice of shackling pregnant women is coming to an end in California – for the most part. Brown signed a bill to prohibit a pregnant inmate from being restrained by the use of leg irons, waist chains, or handcuffs behind the body, unless deemed necessary for the safety and security of the inmate, the staff, or the public. California already prohibited shackling of women during labor and delivery.


From October 5, 2012 issue of Catholic San Francisco.



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