After a heated and partisan debate, the state Assembly voted Thursday to cancel and then modify an agreement with the federal government under which fingerprints of arrestees are checked for their immigration status.
The author of Assembly Bill 1081, San Francisco Democrat Tom Ammiano, said that the program, called Secure Communities, leads to racial profiling and results in deportation of illegal immigrants who may be innocent of crimes or have committed only minor offenses. "S-Comm is a farce," Ammiano declared.
Democrats lined up behind Ammiano, while Republicans denounced his bill as one that would allow counties to become sanctuaries for illegal immigrant criminals.
"Shame on San Francisco," Twin Peaks Republican Tim Donnelly declared during the debate, citing its controversial policy of not cooperating with immigration officials. "There is no shame in protecting people," Ammiano snapped back later.
The bill would require the state Department of Justice to renegotiate its 2009 agreement with the federal government, cancelling the present system but allowing individual counties to opt back in if they wished.
It was sent to the Senate on a party-line 43-22 vote, but even if it clears the Senate, its fate at the hands of Gov. Jerry Brown is uncertain. As attorney general, he signed the agreement with the feds. Donnelly read a letter from Brown praising the program when he was AG.