By The Vanguard Staff
SACRAMENTO, CA – Immigrant rights supporters were quick to very strongly criticize the veto late Friday by California Gov. Gavin Newsom of the so-called HOME Act, which would have, said proponents, “ensured that immigrant Californians who serve their time in state prison and earn release under existing criminal justice reforms come home instead of being automatically and cruelly transferred to ICE.”
The popular measure, supported by hundreds of progressives, criminal justice reform and immigrant rights groups, was passed by supermajority votes in both houses of the Legislature. There was no real opposition.
Newsom’s veto wasn’t the only progressive measure vetoed Friday, and this is not the first time Newsom has broken with immigrant advocates. In 2019, he rejected a bill barring private security personnel from arresting immigrants in California prisons, noted Politico in an analysis.
In a veto message, Newsom said he believed “current law strikes the right balance on limiting interaction to support community trust and cooperation between law enforcement and local communities,” wrote Politico.
The ICE Out of California Coalition, within minutes of the veto Friday, shot out a statement, denouncing Newsom’s “cruel, callous, and cowardly decision to veto this common-sense solution. When policy-making is driven by vanity and crass ambition rather than sound judgment, all Californians suffer.”
The coalition added, “People across the country from all walks of life are increasingly recognizing that the ‘double-punishment’ of immigrants who have already served their time is deeply unjust. The stories of community members who have faced this double-punishment have inspired an outpouring of public support.
“The Governor may claim that he supports rehabilitation and second chances. Yet he cannot praise rehabilitation in one breath, but condone the racist targeting of immigrants for detention and deportation in the next. Today’s veto can only be seen in the context of the Governor’s past harmful actions, including separating children from their families for deportation during his tenure as San Francisco Mayor.”
The coalition then called on the governor to “examine his own biases and prejudices and to embrace policies that uphold our shared values of transformation and compassion. One step, which the Governor refused to take during our campaign, would be to meet with formerly incarcerated civil rights leaders who experienced the pain of double-punishment first hand.”
Introduced by Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo, the bill’s principal co-authors are Assemblymember Ash Kalra and Sen. Scott Wiener. Additional co-authors include Assemblymembers Mia Bonta, Isaac Bryan, Matt Haney, Josh Lowenthal and Damon Connolly, and Senator Henry Stern.
The bill is not dead yet, said the coalition.
“Make no mistake: our commitment to equality, justice, and common humanity is unending and unequivocal. With our communities, we will continue to advocate, organize, and escalate as long as it takes to end the disgraceful practice of double punishment,” the coalition said.
The coalition noted Oregon, Illinois, and Washington, DC, “have already enacted much further-reaching legislation; today’s veto cements California’s retrogression on these issues.”
The coalition noted California’s state prison system policy of transferring immigrant community members who serve their time and earn release under existing reforms to ICE for detention and deportation is a cruel “double punishment” that devastates families and communities.
The HOME Act was expected to provide parity for all Californians, explained the coalition, guaranteeing those released from incarceration “could return home and rebuild their lives.” Instead, they can now be picked up at the gates of a prison and taken away by ICE.
The reforms would have included, said supporters, “The Racial Justice Act for All” (AB 256 of 2022), “Justice for Survivors” Act (AB 124 of 2022), Compassionate releases for those who are sick and dying (AB 960 of 2021), Reforms for people who received convictions as youth (SB 260, SB 261, AB 1308, SB 394), Reform of harsh laws that caused people to be sentenced for murders they did not commit (SB 1437 of 2018), Elderly and medical parole releases and clemency.
The coalition noted there is a “strong consensus” favoring the HOME Act, with “strong support from over 100 faith, labor, and community organizations and criminal-legal system reform advocates, famed Labor Leader Dolores Huerta and Retired Superior Court Judge LaDoris Cordell.”