Congressional Democrats, led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, pushed California Gov. Jerry Brown to sign the 2013 bill that made it more difficult to deport illegal immigrants.
Mr. Brown signed Assembly Bill 4, known as the TRUST Act, in October following an August letter from Mrs. Pelosi and other House Democrats from California urging him to “limit burdensome detentions of aspiring citizens by local law enforcement.”
The law, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2014, allows California to avoid turning over illegal immigrants under the federal Secure Communities program unless they have committed serious crimes. In November, the Obama administration discontinued the program, launched by President George W. Bush in 2008.
California’s lax deportation laws have come under fire since last week’s shooting death of 32-year-old Kate Steinle in San Francisco, who was killed while walking with her father along Pier 14.
The man arrested in connection with the crime, Francisco Sanchez, had been previously deported five times and was released in March by the San Francisco sheriff’s office. He told KGO-TV on Sunday that he shot her accidentally.
Twenty-eight congressional Democrats signed an Aug. 12, 2013, letter to Mr. Brown saying that the bill would ensure that illegal immigrants convicted of minor crimes or no crimes would not be subject to “costly and unfair immigration detainers.”
Mr. Brown vetoed a similar bill in 2012, but signed A.B. 4 after it was expanded to allow local law enforcement to honor detainer holds for those charged with felonies, not just those convicted. Mrs. Pelosi and the state’s congressional Democrats had also urged him in a letter to sign the 2012 bill.
Sanchez had been convicted of seven felonies, but was released after San Francisco prosecutors declined to charge him on an arrest related to marijuana from the 1990s.
The sheriff’s office let him go even though Immigration and Customs Enforcement had requested a detainer. A sheriff’s spokeswoman said that San Francisco law requires federal authorities to obtain a warrant or judicial determination, and a mere request by ICE does not meet that standard.