In 2008, my 17-year-old son Jamiel Jr., was brutally murdered just a few feet from his front door by an illegal alien.
Pedro Espinoza was not just any ordinary illegal alien. He was a member of the notorious 18th Street Gang and a member of a subgroup of that criminal organization noted for carrying out murders, often at random.
But the senselessness of Jamiel’s murder doesn’t stop there. Just 36 hours before he gunned down my son, Espinoza had been released from the Los Angeles County jail in spite of the fact that he had a long history of violent crimes. Rather than handing him over to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for removal from the country, county authorities released him back onto the streets of Los Angeles and ultimately to the street on which my family had lived for almost 40 years.
Now, just four years later, our legislature has approved AB 1081, also known as the Trust Act, which will make it extremely likely that other families will suffer the same fate that befell ours. The only thing standing between deportable criminals being turned loose all across California is Gov. Jerry Brown and his veto pen. For the sake of public safety, if not plain common sense, Gov. Brown must veto this irresponsible legislation.
If AB 1081 were to become law, either because the governor signs the bill, or allows it to take effect without his signature, California law enforcement agencies will be prohibited from honoring detainer requests from ICE, except in very limited circumstances. In order for California authorities to detain an illegal alien they have arrested for some other offense, under AB 1081, that alien must already have been convicted of a serious or violent felony, or be charged with such a felony.
The pretense offered by AB 1081’s supporters – that such a law is necessary to establish a bond of trust between police and people who are living here illegally – simply doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.
Police in California and many other places around the country are not interested in people’s immigration status when they report or witness a crime. Illegal aliens appear on the cover of Time magazine, address a national political convention, and seek admission to the California bar. They are hardly fearful of law enforcement.
This legislation is nothing more than a political statement by a legislature that, through countless acts, is bent upon demonstrating its contempt for the nation’s immigration laws.
Meanwhile, AB 1081 will have real and potentially devastating consequences for people across our state. Sadly, my family is not the only one in California to have lost loved ones at the hands of criminal aliens who had been in police custody, but were released back into the community instead of being remanded to ICE for deportation. As someone who has paid the ultimate price, I hope to spare other families the agony of a similar needless tragedy.
My son was a star athlete, an exemplary student, and fine young man. He was being recruited by Stanford and other prestigious universities to play football and pursue his education. Jamiel never got that chance, because the city and county in which he lived maintain strict sanctuary policies. As a result, authorities chose to release a cold-blooded killer from jail because they did not deem Espinoza dangerous enough to turn over to ICE for deportation. Such policies must not be allowed to become the law in California.
The people of California are running out of time and options. Governor Brown, please do the right thing and veto AB 1081.
Jamiel Shaw Sr. is the father of Jamiel Shaw Jr., a high school football star who was gunned down near his home in Los Angeles, California.