Thursday, March 23, 2017

Calfiornia, Maryland move towards sanctuary; suit filed vs. Trump

Donald Trump's anti-immigrant policies have spurred massive demonstrations in California.
CALIFORNIA STATE Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra late Wednesday (March 22) filed a brief in support of a Santa Clara County lawsuit versus Donald Trump's executive order targeting "sanctuary" cities that refuse to help federal authorities enforce immigration laws.

The amicus brief cites Trump's threat to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities and counties as well as the state's effort to become a sanctuary state citing state laws and policies that promote public safety and protect the constitutional rights of residents, Becerra said.

“Any attempt by Donald Trump to hijack state and local resources to do the Trump administration’s bidding raises serious constitutional questions and threatens the safety of our communities,” Becerra said. “California has a sovereign right and responsibility to protect the safety and the constitutional rights of its residents, and that is what we will continue to do.”

"We're not looking for a fight, a fight has been brought to our doorstep…and we're not backing down,” said Democratic Assemblyman Rob Bonta of Oakland, who co-authored Senate Bill 54, sponsored in the Senate by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon.
Bonta, the only Filipino/American Assemblymember, was one of several legislators to sponsor the measure in the State Assembly in January.

In an interview with Bill O'Reilly on Fox, Donald Trump said, "California, in many ways, is out of control," and threatened to stop federal funds from going to the state.
RELATED: California - State of Resistance
The bill cleared the state Senate’s appropriations committee earlier this month, and is headed to a floor vote some time next week.

Asssemblyman Rob Bonta
Senate Bill 54 originally would have had a sweeping prohibition on state and local law enforcement using their resources to assist federal authorities with immigration enforcement.

“The approach of the sanctuary state has a simple proposition — it says ICE (Immigration and Customers Enforcement) , you should do your job. Local law enforcement should not do your job for you.” 

Under the bill, ICE would still be allowed to do their work in the state, including raids and deportations but a clause in SB54 would forbid them from entering the courts, schools and other public places where people seek assistance.

In an attempt to mollify critics, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, who authored SB 54, introduced an amendment that would require state prisons and county jails to notify the FBI 60 days before releasing an undocumented immigrant with a violent felony conviction.
Last week, Maryland followed California's lead and took steps to become a sanctuary state. The Democratically-controlled House of Delegates voted 83-55 to OK the Maryland Law Enforcement and Trust Act. Similar to California's SB 54, the Maryland legislation would bar state and local law enforcement from helping federal immigration officials seeking illegals, including requests to detain inmates for deportation.

The bill introduced by Delegate Marice Morales drew an angry response from Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, who vows to veto the measure if it reaches his desk.

Senate Bill 54 is perhaps the California Legislature’s highest-profile act of defiance against the Trump administration, which is seeking to enlist the help of local police to carry out its promised crackdown on illegal immigration. The proposal would prohibit local and state agencies from using state resources to communicate with federal agents, with a few exceptions — such as task forces involving federal and local agencies.

A handful of cities in California and elsewhere have declared themselves as sanctuary cities. San Francisco has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration on his threats.

“It’s not a matter of ideology. It’s a matter of common sense,” said de León. “Our communities will become more and not less dangerous when local police officers are pulled from their duties to pull otherwise law-abiding maids, bus boys, gardeners and day laborers for immigration violations.”

Trump is the latest Republican to use fear and hate to target a bogeyman. In the past, African/Americans and Willie Horton filled that role. Today, Trump is pushing the picture of immigrants, not just undocumented immigrants, as "rapists," "drug dealers," and "bad dudes," even though immigrants have been shown to be the most law-abiding members of society.
Numerous studies have shown that cities whose police departments have good relations with immigrant communities -- something that takes years to develop and nurture -- crime has actually gone down.

Supporters of the SB 54 say that if local law enforcement officers are seen as an extension of ICE, that trust and relationship will go down the tubes and crime will likely rise.

"We want victims and witnesses to know with confidence that they can come forward and report crimes and when that happens without fear of retaliation or fear of potentially being deported," Bonta told FOX40.
Despite threats from Trump that he would withhold money from cities and states that provide sanctuary to immigrants, Bonta insists, “Our values are not for sale in California, and doing the right thing is not always free.”

Political experts say it would be difficult for President Trump to withhold funds from California. Court rulings have limited the power of the President to punish states by taking away money.  Besides, most funding appropriations come from the Congress, not the Executive Branch.

President Obama found out the limits of presidential power when the Affordable Care Act had threatened to cut off all medicaid funding to states should they fail to expand the program. South Dakota challenged Obama and won in the Supreme Court where Chief Justice John Roberts, on behalf of the conservative majority, wrote that Obama's threat was "a gun to the head" of the states. That precedence can be used against Trump's threats.

There is also the 10th Amendment that says, the "federal government can't come and commandeer or conscript states and localities and make them use resources the way the federal government wishes,” said Bonta.