SAN JOSE (CBS 5) — Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith has entered the immigration debate, taking a stance that departs from other sheriffs around the state.

Smith sent a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown, urging him to sign the TRUST act. If approved, police would be prohibited from holding undocumented immigrants at local jails for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, unless they are charged with serious or violent felonies. The legislation was introduced by San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano.

In the letter, Smith criticized the federal government’s “Secure Communities Program” or S-Comm, which was billed as a way to deport violent criminals. The sheriff said in two-thirds of the deportations, the detainees had no criminal records or had nonviolent offenses such as traffic violations.

Smith wrote: “The S-Comm program has diminished trust in our immigrant communities of local law enforcement…immigrant victims and witnesses of crime have told me they are afraid to come forward to cooperate with local law enforcement out of fear that they could be detained by ICE under S-Comm and deported.”

The sheriff goes on to ask Governor Brown to call on the federal government and President Barack Obama on comprehensive immigration reform. Neither Smith nor her spokesperson returned CBS 5’s calls for comment as of Wednesday night.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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