PRESS RELEASE: California Resolution Calling on Congress to Abolish ICE Passes Committee, Heads to Assembly Floor Vote with Support from Civil Rights Advocates

For Immediate Release                                                     
April 14, 2021

Media contacts:

Roseryn Bhudsabourg, Director of Communications
Office of Assemblymember Ash Kalra
Office: (916) 319-2027, roseryn.bhudsabourg@asm.ca.gov

Lande Watson, Communications Coordinator
Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus
Office: (415) 212-8588, landew@advancingjustice-alc.org

Allison Vo, Organizing Coordinator
VietRISE
allison@vietrise.org

California Resolution Calling on Congress to Abolish ICE Passes Committee, Heads to Assembly Floor Vote with Support from Civil Rights Advocates

SACRAMENTO – On the heels of last week’s committee passage of the VISION Act (AB 937), Assembly Joint Resolution 1 (AJR 1) by Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) passed a key committee vote with support from civil rights organizations Asian Americans Advancing Justice – California and VietRISE. The California resolution calls on Congress to abolish the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency and is now eligible to be heard on the floor this month for a full Assembly vote.

Organizations supporting both AJR 1 and the VISION Act, which would protect community members who have already been deemed eligible for release from being transferred by local jails and state prisons to ICE for immigration detention and deportation, are joining forces to denounce ICE and advocate for freedom for refugees who have been targeted for detainment and deportation.

Since its establishment almost 20 years ago, ICE has routinely engaged in violent human rights abuses, using deceptive practices and billions of dollars in federal funding to achieve its sole purpose of inhumane detention and deportation. Under the Trump administration, deportations of Southeast Asians, particularly those with criminal convictions, grew at an alarming rate.

“ICE has consistently demonstrated an inability to fulfill its duties without violating due process, human rights, transparency, public accountability, or an adherence to domestic and international law,” said Assemblymember Kalra. “The agency continues to target those who escaped political persecution and genocide to come to the United States in search of freedom and opportunity. I am proud that California is choosing to take a stand against the cruel practices of ICE, but there is still much more work to be done. I urge my colleagues to stand up for our community members and stop our state from collaborating with ICE to punish people who call California home.”

“Detainment and deportation has continued under the Biden administration and still poses a grave risk to our community members. The recently issued Biden immigration enforcement memo, which continues to allow ICE to detain immigrants with aggravated felony convictions, makes clear that ICE will continue to cage immigrants and tear apart immigrant and  refugee communities, no matter the administration,” said Angela Chan, policy director and senior staff attorney at Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus. “This is why California must support AJR 1 and pass legislation like the VISION Act to end ICE transfers because the state should not be assisting ICE, an agency whose mission is incompatible with a humane and just immigration system.”

Advocates are also calling on Governor Gavin Newsom to immediately pardon Southeast Asian refugees who have been targeted for detainment and deportation by ICE. A recent Los Angeles Times op-ed penned by Santa Ana City Councilmember Thai Viet Phanhighlights the ongoing plight of thousands of Southeast Asian refugees impacted by the criminal justice system and the immigration system.

To date, more than 2,000 Southeast Asian Americans have been deported from the United States, and hundreds more, like An Thanh Nguyen—a Vietnamese refugee who came to the United States as a child—still face deportation after having served their prison sentences. Facing poverty, racism and bullying as a youth, Mr. Nguyen made a mistake that resulted in robbery convictions. While incarcerated for 20 years, Mr. Nguyen worked to turn his life around. However, upon his release in 2019, he was transferred to ICE detention despite completing his prison sentence. Today, Mr. Nguyen faces deportation to Vietnam and permanent separation from his family, who are in California. The Biden administration’s most recent ICE enforcement memo puts him at even greater risk by targeting immigrants and refugees with criminal convictions.

“For many refugees like An, a pardon from Governor Newsom is the only way to prevent deportation and further harassment by ICE. We appreciate Assemblymember Kalra for championing measures like AJR 1 and the VISION Act, and for joining us to call for immediate pardons and an end to ICE’s destructive presence in our communities,” said Tracy La, Executive Director of VietRISE. “Local and statewide leaders have the power to dismantle ICE and end its inhumane detention and deportation practices in California—we need them to use it.”

AJR 1 is joint-authored by Assemblymembers David Chiu (D-San Francisco), Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), and Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles). The resolution is also co-authored by Assemblymembers Wendy Carrillo (D-Boyle Heights), Mike Gipson (D-Carson), Alex Lee (D-San Jose), Luz Rivas (D-Arleta), Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), and Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland), and Senators Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles), Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg), Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), and Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco).

The VISION Act is authored by Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo, joint-authored by Assemblymembers Kalra and Santiago, principal co-authored by Senators Wiener and Gonzalez and Assemblymember Chiu.  The bill also is co-authored by Assemblymembers Cristina Garcia, Gipson, Chris Holden (D–Pasadena), Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D–South Los Angeles), Lee, Rivas, Ting, Wicks, and Senators María Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles), Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), Josh Newman (D-Fullerton), and Skinner.

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Assemblymember Ash Kalra represents the 27th District, which encompasses approximately half of San Jose and includes all of downtown. He is the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment and also serves as a member on the Housing and Community Development, Judiciary, Transportation, and Water, Parks, and Wildlife committees. For more information, visit https://a27.asmdc.org/.

Asian Law Caucus (ALC) was founded in 1972 as the nation’s first legal and civil rights Asian American organization. Recognizing that social, economic, political and racial inequalities continue to exist in the United States, ALC is committed to the pursuit of equality and justice for all sectors of our society, with a specific focus directed toward addressing the needs of low-income, immigrant and underserved Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. For more information, visit www.advancingjustice-alc.org

VietRISE is an immigrant and social justice non-profit organization based in Orange County, CA, dedicated to advancing social and economic justice by organizing working-class Vietnamese and immigrant communities in the county. For more information, visit www.vietrise.org.