Key California Assembly Committee Approves Measure to Stop ‘Double Punishment’ When ICE Snares Immigrants Immediately After Release from State Prison


By The Vanguard Staff

SACRAMENTO, CA – The California Assembly Public Safety Committee Tuesday approved 6-0 the HOME (Harmonizing Our Measures for Equality) Act that would stop U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) from picking up—before they can even go home—immigrant Californians who are released from prison.

AB 1306, authored by Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo, now heads to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

The measure, according to a statement by ICE Out of California Coalition, would “ensure that immigrant Californians who earn release from state prison under broadly-supported criminal justice reforms can come home instead of being cruelly transferred to ICE.”

“The HOME Act is a simple fix that will harmonize state policy with broadly-supported, existing criminal justice reforms that have already been enacted into law. These laws are reducing mass incarceration and addressing racism in our legal systems,” according to ICE Out of California Coalition.

The coalition added, “California’s state prison system continues to transfer immigrant community members who earn release under these reforms to ICE for detention and deportation, a cruel ‘double punishment’ that devastates families and communities. The HOME Act would create parity for all Californians who earn release under these reforms, so that they can return home and rebuild their lives.” 

At a news conference about the bill (video here), Sandra Castañeda, who was transferred to ICE by the state although a judge had overturned her murder conviction, told legislators, “Getting handed over to ICE was a heartbreaking experience for my family and me. I was still being treated less than human.”

She added, “The way ICE treated any non-English speaking immigrants was so frustrating and heartbreaking to me” and urged legislators to “ensure equal treatment in our justice system.”

Vietnamese refugee Tin Nguyen—who now is the Immigrant Justice Coordinator at VietRISE in Orange County—noted in his “story of double-punishment” that “despite having received a commutation in recognition of his transformation in prison, he was handcuffed and taken away.

“Upon my parole, as I watched others walk out the gate of freedom to their loved ones, I was shackled, cuffed, and transferred to Adelanto ICE detention center… not knowing if I was ever coming home. The state did not consider the merit of my progress but allowed ICE to punish me based on my birthplace,” he said.

Phil Melendez, Special Projects Director for Smart Justice California, said, “After nearly 20 years of incarceration, I was able to return home to my kids and wife thanks to criminal justice reforms passed here—in this very building—that recognized my humanity and potential to transform myself and contribute to my community.” 

Melendez argued California’s “two-tiered system of justice that treats you differently based on where you were born. It’s time we stop this unfair, double punishment—and live up to our shared values of equality, fairness, and common humanity.”

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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