Ask any mom and she'll probably tell you the same thing: harm my children in any way and be prepared to get my full wrath. That's what parents do. We defend and protect our children. So I can totally see why the father of a California teen killed by a gang member who is an undocumented immigrant wants to make sure the killer not only pays for his crime, but that others like him don't get to do something similar.

You see, Pedro Espinoza, who killed 17-year-old Jamiel Shaw Jr. after mistaking him for a rival gang member, had been released from jail only 36 hours before, despite a long rap sheet and his undocumented status. Now, Jamile Shaw Sr. is worried that unless Gov. Jerry Brown vetoes the Trust Act--which would essentially release jailed undocumented immigrants into the streets--others will be in danger too.

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But things are never that simple and although I understand where Shaw is coming from, it's also important to understand that many of these undocumented immigrants who will be released from jail, if and when the Trust Act becomes law, have absolutely no criminal background. Their only offense is that they lack the papers to be here legally. 

Again, while I see why Shaw is pushing for Gov. Brown to veto this bill, it's unfair to suggest--as he has in a statement regarding bill AB 1081--that it "will make it extremely likely that other families will suffer the same fate that befell ours."

Shaw is obviously outraged at what happened to his son and feels, rightly so, that the crime could've probably been prevented. But vetoing the Trust Act is not the real answer. Way too many undocumented immigrants have ended up in jail because of Secure Communities and no longer have any trust in their local law enforcement agents, which makes it less likely for them to be willing to cooperate in terms of reporting crime. The bill aims to change that.

I feel terrible about what happened to Shaw, but I don't think vetoing AB 1081 will make him feel vindicated. 

Image via Jamiel Shaw family

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About the author

Roxana A. Soto is Features Editor of MamásLatinas. She's a bilingual and bicultural journalist born in Peru and raised in Mexico, Argentina, South Africa and Miami. She's also mom to a girl in 3rd grade and a boy in Kinder. She loves books, languages, traveling and good food – especially when cooked by someone else.

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