Head to Head
Conversations on Politics, Policy in the Golden State
By Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon
California Takes Steps to Protect People, Values
In his campaign—which began with him referring to immigrants as rapists and murderers—Donald Trump said he would tackle the issue of immigration on day one. With that day approaching, California is already taking steps to protect our people and stand up for our values.
On the Legislature’s "day one" we passed HR 4, documenting the importance of immigrants to our society and economy. We called on the incoming administration to pursue a course of no expedited removal without due process, no mass deportations, and no more bigoted rhetoric.
Given what we’ve seen of Mr. Trump—most lately his cabinet appointments—it is hard to see him following that prudent course. Therefore, it is in California’s best interest to be prepared.
That’s why we have introduced legislation to establish a legal aid fund for people facing deportation and to create training centers to educate legal professionals on immigration law.
The Legislature will work with the Governor and our next Attorney General to protect California’s economy and our sensible policies on climate change, health care, civil rights as well as immigration.
To further help protect the rights and interests of the people of California, the Legislature has also retained the services of an expert legal team from the nationally-renowned Covington law firm, led by former U.S Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. Mr. Holder and his team will serve as outside counsel to the Legislature, advising us in our efforts to resist any attempts to roll back the progress California has made.
There are many unknowns in the weeks and months ahead. Will President Trump risk a national recession by cutting funding and undermining the state that generates 13% of the nation’s economy just to satisfy Candidate Trump’s base? Will Californians stand by and allow their law enforcement resources to be diverted from apprehending dangerous criminals to deporting college students?
While we don’t yet know what specific harm the next administration’s proposals will cause, we do have a rough idea of what we’re dealing with. That’s why it’s important we prepare now, both at the state level and the local level, especially communities who have designated themselves as sanctuaries, and whose public safety would be most impacted by law enforcement being diverted to mass deportations.
Immigrants are important to California. They pay taxes—sometimes more than billionaires—and they help drive the engine that makes California the 6th largest economy in the world.
75 years ago, California was part of a mass round up, where people were forcibly removed from their homes, businesses, and schools. With the preparations the Legislature is taking, we are saying: never again.
Speaker Anthony Rendon represents the 63rd Assembly District in the California State Assembly. On March 7, 2016, he was sworn-in as the 70th Speaker of the Assembly. The opinions in this article are presented in the spirit of spurring discussion and reflect those of the author and not necessarily the Treasurer, his office or the State of California.
By Ben Boychuk
It is Clear: Sanctuary Cities Should be Illegal
Since the November presidential elections, California officials—elected and otherwise—have made a show of their willingness to use almost any means at their disposal to resist the incoming administration’s policies toward undocumented immigrants. What’s remarkable is the way in which these officials have made sanctuary cities, sanctuary districts, sanctuary campuses . . . well, sacrosanct.
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg: “We are going to make it very clear that Sacramento will continue to be a sanctuary city.”
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf: “I like to compare this to conscientious objector status. We are not going to use our resources to enforce what we believe are unjust immigration laws.”
UC President Janet Napolitano: “Campus police officers will not contact, detain, question or arrest any individual solely on the basis of (suspected) undocumented immigration status.”
The Legislature on January 4 retained former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder at $25,000 a month to defend the state against the threatened loss of billions in federal funds.
Although money is important, something much greater is at stake.
Not to get too pedantic, but the U.S. Constitution is pretty clear: matters of immigration and naturalization belong to the federal government, not the states. Quite apart from the policy and legal questions—nine times out of 10, federalism is a beautiful thing—sanctuary cities pose a challenge to our understanding of civics and rule of law.
Sanctuary cities undermine citizenship by erasing the distinction between citizen and non-citizen, between green card holder and “unauthorized immigrant.” Illegal immigrants may obtain driver’s licenses. They may receive in-state college tuition and now may hold professional licenses. San Francisco recently contemplated allowing non-citizens to vote in certain municipal elections.
Voting, of course, is a sacred right of citizenship. Eliminating the distinction between citizen and non-citizen, between legal and illegal immigrant, undermines social cohesion and the rule of law. For that reason, if no other, sanctuary cities should be illegal.