Incarcerated people who have served their time or have been ordered for release shouldn’t be punished twice, but that’s exactly what happens to some immigrants. In the case of Sandra Castaneda, she was turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on the day she was set to return home following a commutation from California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Lawmakers and advocates there have been championing legislation to stop this double punishment statewide, including rallying at the state capitol this month in support of the VISION Act. Davis Vanguard reports that the bill has passed the state assembly and is pending on the state senate floor.
RELATED STORY: Green card holder is facing deportation even after a court overturned her conviction
“I am tired of having to support a justice system in the state of California that treats citizens one way and immigrants in a different way,” Assembly member and bill author Wendy Carrillo said in the report. “Either we believe in a justice system that treats everyone equally, or we continue to support a justice system that treats people [as] unequal.”
While Gabby Solano is among the bill’s supporters, she had to phone in her support from Mexico, the report said. The domestic violence survivor had her sentence commuted by former Gov. Jerry Brown, had support from the state’s parole board, and completed 1,000 hours of rehabilitation courses, but she was instead turned over to ICE and deported to Mexico a year ago. Salano and Carrillo noted in a Lake County Record-Bee op-ed that friends had been waiting for her outside the prison walls when she was turned over to immigration officials.
“My story isn’t unique; it’s the status quo in California until we pass the VISION Act and live up to our best ideals of equality and justice,” Solano said in remarks.
Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus said that advocates also marched from the capitol grounds to the annex building to deliver a letter from more than 140 affected advocates urging the governor to meet with them and support the bill. “A poll conducted by UC San Diego’s US Immigration Policy Center last year found that two-thirds of voters back the VISION Act,” Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus said.
“After serving our sentences, investing in countless hours in rehabilitative programs, being found suitable for parole and/or doing everything the state of California required of us, we looked forward to starting our re-entry plans and giving back to our communities,” the letter said. “But on our scheduled release date, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations (CDCR), or our local sheriff, coordinated with ICE to facilitate our immediate ICE detention and deportation.”
Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus said that at least eight counties in the state have policies in place blocking these unjust transfers. A statewide law would be essential in protecting Californians who deserve their own second chance after serving their time.
“I’m done with our immigrant community being seen as anything else other than loving, thriving members of our community,” Carrillo said. “I am tired of a California justice system that double punishes immigrants who have served their time, who have paid their debt to society, and who simply want to be able to come home, restart their lives, and be with their families.”
“When immigrants and refugees get the chance to come home with the VISION Act, families will be reunited, resources spent on programs inside jails and prisons will not be wasted, people will have better access to counsel to navigate their immigration cases, and California will have more community members contributing back to their cities as firefighters, re-entry navigators, union members, business owners, non-profit leaders, students, and essential workers,” advocates continued in the letter. “We strongly urge Gov. Gavin Newsom to support the VISION Act (AB 937), and request a meeting with a small group of us for further discussion.”
U.S. citizen wrongfully detained and mocked by ICE awarded $55,000 settlement
U.S.-born citizen sues Florida sheriff's office that held him so that ICE could try to deport him
ICE may have deported up to 70 U.S. citizens in recent years—and there could be even more