Op-Ed: Pass the TRUST Act and Restore Faith in Police

Fear of deportation keeps immigrants away from the police

ByJONATHAN BIBRIESCA, Orange County Dream Team
September 28, 2012, 6:56 PM

Sept. 28, 2012— -- When we're young, teachers instruct us that police are there for us if we ever face serious problems. Our civics classes teach us that they're sworn to protect and serve.

But for undocumented immigrants in California, seeing the police can mean the opposite: fear of deportation, losing jobs and being taken from loved ones. We've been taught to avoid the police at all costs since any interaction with the police could result in an encounter with federal immigration authorities.

Last week, however, my organization, Orange County Dream Team -- a group that advocates for undocumented students -- decided to go to the doorstep of the nearby police department. We held a rally in front of the Anaheim Police Department because we don't want to live with law enforcement as a perceived threat.

Right now, local police are forced to share the fingerprints of arrestees with federal immigration officials through a program called Secure Communities. The program has resulted in nearly 80,000 Californians being deported since its inception, each one of them someone with family and a community who loves them and misses them.

But there is a very real chance for things to change.

There's a bill awaiting Governor Jerry Brown's signature, the TRUST Act, that would transform our relationship with local police.

The TRUST Act would be a monumental step toward allaying the fear that persists in immigrant communities. The bill, which has already passed the state assembly and senate, would limit how California responds to the requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement that are triggered by the Secure Communities program, so that undocumented Californians wouldn't be turned over for deportation if they aren't convicted or charged with a serious crime.

It would be a turning point for the nation. Despite the complaints of some sheriffs who would prefer California to look more like Jan Brewer's Arizona, we have the chance to move the state forward. President Obama already took one step by granting relief from wrongful deportation for some DREAMers. Governor Brown can decide to advance us another step forward toward our dreams. The assembly, senate and a huge list of others have all already decided that the TRUST Act should become a law in California. We're willing to overcome our fears for a new day in California. We hope that Gov. Brown will be courageous too and sign the TRUST Act into law.

Jonathan Bibriesca is a member of the Orange County Dream Team.

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC/Univision News.

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