California’s unapologetically ultra-liberal governor, Jerry Brown, signed SB 54, also known as the California Values Act, into law on October 5. The law prohibits state and local agencies from enforcing immigration laws or from working with immigration enforcement agencies. The legislation reads:
In no event shall state or local law enforcement agencies or school police or security departments transfer an individual to federal immigration authorities for purposes of immigration enforcement or detain an individual at the request of federal immigration authorities for purposes of immigration enforcement absent a judicial warrant....
The attorney general … shall publish model policies limiting immigration enforcement to the fullest extent possible consistent with federal and state law at public schools, health facilities operated by the state or a political subdivision of the state, courthouses, and shelters, to ensure that they remain safe and accessible to all California residents, regardless of immigration status.
As was noted in an article posted by The New American in February, the bill directs the same entities not to use money or equipment to “interrogate, detain, detect, or arrest persons for immigration enforcement purposes.”
An article posted by the San Francisco Chronicle on October 5 reported that SB 54 also bars local jails from holding “immigrants” (aliens) for any reason if they are cleared for release on their state criminal cases. Furthermore, the law shortens the list of crimes that require jailers to notify federal authorities when an “undocumented” (illegal) alien inmate is set to be released.
The Chronicle reported that, in addition to SB 54, Brown also signed 10 other immigration-related bills that “limit the growth of immigration detention centers, expand education services for immigrants and protect tenant and workplace protections for “undocumented people” (illegal aliens).
An October 5 report in The Hill noted that an estimated 65 percent of all deportations result from cooperation between state and local law-enforcement officials and federal ICE and Customs and Border Protection officers.
The Sacramento Bee quoted a statement made by the bill’s key sponsor, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León at a news conference in Los Angeles: “California’s local law enforcement cannot be commandeered and used by the Trump Administration to tear families apart, undermine our safety, and wreak havoc on our economy,” de Leon said, as activists behind him chanted “Sí, se puede.”
“Sí, se puede,”(“Yes, it can be done”) is the motto of the United Farm Workers (UFW). In 1972, during UFW co-founder Cesar Chavez’s 25-day fast in Phoenix, Arizona, the organization’s other co-founder, Dolores Huerta, came up with the slogan.
An article about Huerta in The New American in 2012 reported that former President Barack Obama had “just sparked more controversy after awarding the U.S. government’s highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom, to divisive labor activist Dolores Huerta, a fellow ‘community organizer,’ collectivist, radical feminist, as well as the honorary chair of Democratic Socialists of America. DSA, which openly calls for ‘restructuring society,’ even more ‘massive redistribution of income’ and increased central planning on its website, is the largest socialist organization in the nation and Socialist International’s main U.S. affiliate.”
Using typical leftist catch phrases, De Leon also denounced President Trump and criticized his policies as “racist and xenophobic.” “I know Trump supporters don’t get this from their news outlets or blogs, but immigrants commit far fewer crimes than U.S.-born citizens. That is a fact, not fake news,” he asserted.
Earlier this year, when SB 54 was being debated, Fox News reported, “Many of California’s largest cities, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento, already have sanctuary policies that prohibit police from cooperating with immigration officials. The state is already home to an estimated 2.3 million illegal immigrants. SB 54 would extend those policies statewide, prohibiting police officers and jailers from arresting or detaining people solely for immigration violations unless a judge issues a warrant.”
During the debate on the bill, State Senator Jeff Stone (R-Riverside County) declared, “I think this bill is making it that much more difficult for the federal authorities to get the most dangerous criminals that we want to deport to keep our communities safe.”
As was noted in an article posted by The New American in August, one of Donald Trump’s first actions as president was to issue an executive order that targeted sanctuary cities by directing local and state agencies to enforce existing immigration laws or face losing federal funds. According to The New American’s Bob Adelmann, Trump’s order immediately produced results as it prompted a number of self-proclaimed “sanctuary cities” to reverse their policies, including Miami-Dade, Florida; Dayton, Ohio; Saratoga, New York; Finney County, Kansas; and Bedford, Pennsylvania.
California, however, took a different approach, noted Raven Clabough in the August article: “San Francisco sued the Trump administration, claiming that the order violated states’ rights provisions. And in flagrant disregard of Trump’s order, California attempted to become the first-ever sanctuary state.”
With Brown’s signing of SB 54, that will become a reality next year.
California State Attorney General Xavier Becerra and San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera have filed separate federal lawsuits against the Trump administration, challenging the executive order to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities, asserting that the Trump administration’s efforts are “unauthorized and unlawful.” We can expect that they will also add the state to amended versions of those lawsuits.
Furthermore, the legal quagmire does not promise to improve. Another article by Clabough in The New American on September 20 reported that U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber of Chicago ruled September 15 that the Department of Justice cannot withhold federal dollars in law-enforcement grants to sanctuary cities.
Leinenweber’s ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by the city of Chicago, which stood to lose $2.3 million in Byrne grant funding under the Trump administration’s policies. The lawsuit claimed that the DOJ was trying to “federalize” local law enforcement and violate the constitutional rights of alien jail inmates.
Judge Leinenweber claimed the DOJ policy would cause “irreparable harm” to the city, Bloomberg News reported.
We can expect the legal battle between the Trump DOJ and various sanctuary cities (and now the state of California) to be fought, appealed, and re-appealed though various federal courts.
It is likely that if California files a lawsuit against the Trump administration to stop the Department of Justice from withholding federal dollars from the state due to its sanctuary status, the case will eventually be decided by the Supreme Court.
Photo of Jerry Brown: Mark Miller