California Flips the Middle Finger at Trump's Immigration Policies
Many “sanctuary cities” are fighting tooth and nail to preserve their sanctuary status despite President Donald Trump’s efforts to crack down on illegal immigration.
In January, Trump signed an order threatening to withhold federal money from jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Authority (ICE). In late March, the DHS published a list of 118 jurisdictions that had jointly released over 200 illegal immigrants from prison before ICE agents were able to facilitate their deportation.
As I wrote in a previous article, these individuals had been accused of crimes ranging from DUI to rape and aggravated assault.
This Monday, the California Senate gave initial approval to legislation that would prevent cops from cooperating with ICE agents. The Senate voted 27-12 along party lines to pass the bill, which is now headed to the state Assembly before potentially landing on the governor’s desk. If passed, it would take effect on January 1st, 2018.
SB54 would make California a statewide haven for illegal immigrants. The National Day Laborer Organizing Network and the American Civil Liberties Union say SB54 would give the Golden State some of the nation’s strongest anti-deportation protections.
The new bill would prohibit cops from detaining individuals solely for immigration violations. It would also prohibit California law enforcement from assisting in immigration-related investigations and from asking about a person’s immigration status.
SB54 includes language that requires local law enforcement to notify ICE agents before a convicted felon is released from prison; the bill also makes it easier for cops to hand over criminals who were previously deported for violent crimes.
“We will cooperate with our friends at the federal level with serious and violent felons. But we won’t cooperate or lift a finger or spend a single cent when we’re talking about separating children from their mothers, mothers from their children,” said Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León.
De León calls the bill “a rejection of President Trump’s false and cynical portrayal of undocumented immigrants as a lawless community.”
Supporters fear that local cops will be deputized to locate illegal immigrants and send them packing. They believe SB54 will encourage illegals to report crimes and feel safe enough to interact with hospitals, schools, courts, and other government systems.
“Overwhelmingly this bill is about people who are just trying to live their lives. People who are living in fear right now,” said CA State Senator Scott Wiener (D).
Detractors worry the bill will endanger public safety by blocking felons from being deported. They argue that immigration policy is a federal, not a state, responsibility and fear that SB54 will make California a magnet for criminals.
“By passing this today you’ll be kicking the president right in the groin, and I can imagine he’s going to strike back,” said CA State Senator Jeff Stone (R).
“If we don’t control our borders, we cease to be a nation,” argues CA State Senator Ted Gaines (R). “We cannot be a beacon of lawlessness.”
California lawmakers advanced two other bills that seek to impede President Trump’s immigration policies – one that allocates $12 million to pay lawyers assisting immigrants facing deportation; and another that prohibits state officials from sharing data if the Trump Administration creates a Muslim registry.
California is the country’s most populous state, with an estimated illegal population of about 2.3 million.
A recent University of California Berkeley poll found that only 56% of CA voters support cities that declare sanctuary status – this includes 20% of Republicans and 74% of Democrats.
The state expresses bipartisan support when it comes to providing easy pathways for immigrants to secure US citizenship and bipartisan opposition to Trump’s proposed border wall, but remains heavily divided on the sanctuary issue.