I support the Trust Act. The bill enhances the ability of local Sheriffs and Police Departments to fight crime by restoring community trust and saving jail space for serious offenders. This legislation draws a clear line for state and local law enforcement regarding how far to go in collaborating with federal agents on immigration enforcement. Specifically, it prohibits local law enforcement from honoring detainer requests by the Department of Homeland Security unless the individual has been convicted of a serious crime. It effectively elevates concerns about public safety, which should be the primary concern of state law enforcement, over concerns about immigration status, which is a uniquely federal concern and responsibility.
While the TRUST Act makes eminent sense as an interim step to restore balance between federal and state authorities in immigration enforcement, we should not lose sight of the context for this debate. Even if the federal government’s enforcement surge could produce mass deportation of all 11.7 million unauthorized immigrants, which it can’t, what end are these federal efforts serving? If the Department of Homeland Security succeeded in removing every single unauthorized immigrant, it would not only destroy millions of American families and businesses and thousands of communities across the country, but it would also devastate the U.S. economy to the tune of a cumulative $2.6 trillion in cumulative lost GDP over 10 years.
Trying to enforce our way to a solution and failing to pass meaningful immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship has had a devastating human and economic impact on communities across the nation. It has also triggered the need for corrective measures like the TRUST Act. Instead of trying to enlist states in a self-defeating and inhumane effort to expel millions of people from this country, Congress needs to own up to its obligation to reform the broken system and abandon its knee-jerk reliance on enforcement as a panacea. In the interim, the TRUST Act is smart legislation that should be adopted nationwide and should serve as a model for other states.