The Sanctuary Long Beach Coalition is cosponsoring the VISION Act, Assembly Bill 2596, introduced by California State Assembly Members Rob Bonta and David Chiu, to prevent the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) from transferring inmates to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after they’ve finished serving their sentences in jail or prison.
Bonta and Chiu introduced the Voiding Inequality and Seeking Inclusion for Our Immigrant Neighbors (VISION) Act to the California State Assembly on February 20. The act was further amended in assembly on May 4.
Sanctuary LB and other immigrant rights groups advocate that immigrants should be entitled to the same rules of release and parole as citizens, and should not be detained further by ICE after being granted parole or release from CDCR.
“Once a Californian has paid their debt to society, and earned their release from our state prisons or jails, they should be released back to society rather than funneled into immigration detention and deportation,” Bonta said in a press release.
The bill would prevent cooperation between CDCR, California police departments and ICE, such as sharing an inmate’s release date and immigration status. The bill also provides further protection for immigrants who were arrested for crimes committed when they were 25 years old or younger and are now eligible for release.
“Unfortunately, immigrants and refugees who have earned release through the rigorous parole hearing process or who have served determinate sentences are regularly turned over to immigration authorities instead of being released back to their families and communities,” the VISION Act reads. “In many cases, these individuals are then deported to countries they left as children. This act ensures equitable implementation of several criminal justice reform measures which the Legislature passed to allow individuals who received prison sentences for offenses committed while under 25 years of age an opportunity at obtaining parole.”
Rot Mythong is a Long Beach resident and ethnically Lao, Cambodian national who was convicted of first degree murder in 1993, for a homicide he committed when he was 16. After nearly three decades a parole board decided to release Mythong, now 45, on parole. However, he was remanded directly into ICE custody on the day of his release instead. He is currently being held at Adelanto Detention Center in California.
Numerous local immigrant rights groups, such as Sanctuary LB and Khmer Girls in Action, have been phone banking ICE asking that Mythong be released. Since Mythong already went through the screening process of a parole hearing, activists and proponents of the VISION Act believe that Mythong should have the same right to attempt to reintegrate into society as any other community member who has been released from CDCR after serving their time, regardless of citizenship.
However, ICE believes that Mythong and other immigrants who have been detained in California jails and prisons should continue to be transferred directly into ICE custody to await deportation proceedings.
“There is no reason advocates should want this dangerous convicted murderer released back into our community – in any community,” ICE’s ERO Los Angeles Field Office Director Dave Marin said. “It is a great injustice for our community and law enforcement officers to see criminals, who pose a risk of reoffending and danger to the public and should therefore be turned over to ICE, released into the public instead. We have an obligation to protect and serve, which includes using every resource at our disposal, such as honoring immigration detainers, to keep violent criminals, like Mythong, off our streets.”