Great news is being reported for California immigrants and those across the rest of the nation. The federal government has announced a shift in how it apprehends immigrants. The focus has shifted from undocumented immigrants with minor traffic offenses to those who are felons or repeat criminal offenders. The shift in policy could bring a sigh of relief for those worrying about possible deportation and removal proceedings for something as insignificant as a traffic ticket.
While some have welcomed the new policy, others continue to criticize the difficulty undocumented immigrant still have trying to obtain legal services. Others believe those who are innocent of the charges against them still face the possibility of deportation because they don't have access to necessary services that could assist them with their cases. Critics of the new policy are calling for the California 'Trust Act' to be passed. This law would serve as protection for law-abiding undocumented immigrants, who may have only a slight offense on their records.
One county in California has one of the nation's highest amounts of immigrants with no criminal records deported. Contra Costa County had almost 2,000 people undergo deportation and removal proceedings since 2010. Out of those people, only a quarter were actually convicted of serious crimes. Almost forty percent of those were never convicted. The shift in policies in the state appears to be largely due to immigrant concerns about counties with records like these.
The Contra Costa County sheriff announced he would stop holding undocumented immigrants for federal authorities if the indiscretion was minor. Other California counties are beginning to re-examine immigration policies as well, potentially to adopt similar practices and lower the use of deportation and removal proceedings around the entire state. Such news may be good for undocumented immigrants living in the state because it will likely diminish the threat of being deported for making small mistakes.
Source: Marinij.com, "U.S. ending pursuit of illegal immigrants who commit minor crimes," Matt O'Brien, Dec. 21, 2012