Trust Act to limit deportations after some arrests

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - Last December, Ruth Montano got into an argument with Kern County sheriff's deputies over her barking dogs. She was arrested and charged with obstructing a peace officer.

Then she found herself facing deportation charges.

Montano's case was cited by proponents of the Trust Act as an example of the need to reform the Secure Communities program, which conducts mandatory immigration checks of everyone booked into local jails. Immigrant advocates pointed to this as leading to the deportations of thousands of undocumented immigrants with no criminal records.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Trust Act into law on Saturday. It limits California's cooperation with Secure Communities.

The bill requires local police agencies to release undocumented immigrants who have been arrested once their bond is posted or their sentence is up, as long as they were not arrested for a major crime and have no serious convictions.

"At the heart of this is the abuse by Immigration and Customs Enforcement of putting people in removal proceedings that have no criminal history," said Bakersfield immigration attorney Win Eaton.

But, others see it differently.

"We just feel that it's wrong," said Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood. "Because they're here illegally, I think they should be deported."

The Trust Act is expected to impact a significant amount of people in Kern County. Just how it will be implemented, though, is uncertain.

"Depends on what the offense is and depending on what our attorney tells us at the end of the day, there may be a conflict," said Youngblood.