Today, 51 leading legal scholars issued a detailed letter to California
Governor Jerry Brown regarding the TRUST Act, a bill that seeks to limit
deportations and rebuild community confidence in law enforcement.
In the letter, the experts urge the Governor to uphold a key feature of
the bill as currently written by ensuring that prior brushes with the
nation’s broken immigration system do not cause immigration “holds” in
The legal scholars urge against holding individuals simply because they
have “prior removal orders” or “re-entry” offenses. The letter explains
that these stem entirely from the nation’s profoundly broken
immigration system. They outline several devastating flaws in the
nation’s immigration system which result in unjust deportations,
Serious procedural defects in the immigration court system. An
unworkable immigration court system, with many long-time residents
ordered deported without their knowledge or coerced into signing away
- Inadequate relief from deportation in current U.S. immigration law and policy.
Unjust federal policies which prevent immigration judges from
considering all of the circumstances of a person’s case, including
Key signatories of today’s letter include Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of the
UC Irvine School of Law; Christopher Edley, Jr., Dean of UC Berkeley’s
Boalt Hall School of Law; Kevin Johnson, Dean of the UC Davis School of
Law; John Trasvina, Dean of the University of San Francisco School of
law; Frank H. Wu, Chancellor & Dean of the UC Hastings College of
the Law; and Marjorie Cohn, past president of the National Lawyers Guild.
The letter comes on the heels of prominent TRUST Act endorsements from 28 California Members of Congress and the Police Chiefs of San Diego, Chula Vista, and National City.
“We need immigration policies that uphold the principles of family unity
and due process,” said Bill Ong Hing, Professor of Law at the
University of San Francisco. “As a first step toward fixing the
injustices of our immigration system and advancing common-sense
immigration policy across the nation, I urge the Governor to sign the
TRUST Act as currently written.”
“Due to this nation’s failure to establish a reasonable immigration
process, many people who came to the United States for a better life and
have deep family ties here have been swept up in a wave of aggressive
enforcement with few legal options,” said Allison Davenport, a Lecturer
and Clinical Instructor at the International Human Rights Law Clinic of
UC Berkeley’s School of Law. “Caught in a deeply dysfunctional system
where judges’ hands are tied and fundamental violations of basic due
process principles are rampant, many are deported. They return to be
reunited with their loved ones and contribute to this country.
Channeling resources to deport them again after trivial or wrongful
arrests undermines our values.”
The TRUST Act would ensure that people arrested for low-level,
non-violent offenses are not held for extra time at local expense in
response to costly “hold” requests issued by Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE), often without probable cause that a person is
deportable. Such holds have unfairly trapped citizens in local jails for
an extended period of time, including survivors of domestic violence
and other crimes, and many aspiring citizens arrested for issues as
minor as selling food without a permit.
The ACLU of California is one of the 5 organizational sponsors of the
bill, which will restore trust between immigrant communities and local
law enforcement, save resources, uphold civil liberties.