California’s TRUST Act has been in place since the beginning of the year. Immigrant rights activists say the law is working, but there are still gaps in compliance.
Martin Del Agua, a married father of two, was arrested earlier this year in Sacramento after a neighbor complained he was playing his music too loud. Del Agua was detained on an immigration hold by the Sheriff’s Department and was facing deportation.
Immigrant advocates say stories like his are why counties must still be reminded about the California TRUST Act, which says undocumented immigrants may not be held for deportation if they’ve only been arrested for minor crimes. Attorney Angela Chan says the law has lead to fewer deportations.
“I would say that overall, most counties are following the TRUST Act," she says. "So, there is significantly a good, positive impact in stopping deportation in California. And California had it really hard.”
Chan says before the law California led the country in deportations. And she expects counties that aren’t operating under the TRUST Act will start complying soon.
“I think that they have no choice but to fall in line," she says. "And I think that there’s a strong community presence that will really push them to fall in line. And also there’s the fact that, under the law, ICE holds can be regulated.”
Chan says 20 out of California’s 58 counties are no longer responding to any hold requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Del Agua got lucky, his case drew the attention of a local attorney before immigration officials could pick him up. He was released from jail and the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department has since developed a TRUST Act policy.