Last week, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the California Values Act, SB 54, which officially made the state a criminal alien sanctuary. Brown’s signature was never doubted. During the many immigration speeches he’s delivered since he’s been in office, the governor has always staunchly defended illegal aliens, and on one occasion invited every Mexican national to come to California. “You are all welcome in California,” Brown told an assembled group. “Permission,” as Brown put it, isn’t a requirement.
During his administration, Brown signed eleven bills that, among them, allowed illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, and to qualify for professional business licenses. Brown also signed the Trust Act, a forerunner to SB 54 that offered then-unprecedented protections to illegal immigrants.
Brown and California Senate Pro Tem President Kevin de Leon, SB 54’s author, infer that the White House’s vows to uphold immigration laws target kindly grandmothers, nannies and gardeners. The truth, however, is that because the state sanctuary law severely limits cooperation between local jurisdictions and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, murderers, attempted murders, rapists, child molesters, and other convicted felons have been and will continue to be set free.
A 2016 Senate Judiciary review of ICE data showed that since 2010, released criminal aliens have committed or attempted to commit more than 130 murders. Between fiscal years 2013 and 2015, ICE admitted that the agency released 86,288 dangerous criminals. And a subsequent Boston Globe analysis found that recidivism among criminal aliens may reach 30 percent.
Now that SB 54 is state law, Brown and his Sacramento acolytes are doing victory laps. At the signing ceremony, Brown made it clear that his priority is “to bring a measure of comfort” to aliens, public safety be damned. The question today is what action the Trump administration, and specifically ICE, might take on behalf of California’s law-abiding citizens and legal residents who are appalled at Brown’s loving embrace of SB 54 and with releasing criminals back into the general population. Although few would know it after listening to Brown, California’s citizens and legal immigrants outnumber illegal aliens by a 13:1 ratio. That’s approximately 36 million legal residents compared to an estimated 3 million aliens.
Acting ICE director Tom Homan told the media that in response to what he called Brown’s decision to “undermine public safety and hinder ICE from performing its federally mandated mission,” his agents have “no choice but to conduct at-large arrests in local neighborhoods and at worksites.” Instead of focusing on arrests at jails and prisons, ICE’s at-large actions will, according to Homan, result in collateral, non-targeted alien arrests. In short, Homan promises more arrests, a development that mainstream Californians would approve of.
A 2016 USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll found that 62 percent of likely voters agreed that illegal immigration in California is “at least a major problem.” Had participants been asked their opinions about criminal illegal aliens, those that expressed dissatisfaction would have been significantly higher than 62 percent.
An earlier poll, taken in 2015 by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies, showed that the popularity of sanctuary cities was less favorable than illegal immigration. By wide margins, Californians disapprove of sanctuary cities: Republicans, 82 percent; Democrats, 73 percent; Independents, 71 percent, Asian and African-Americans, 75 percent, and Latinos, 65 percent.
Brown’s bombast plays well with immigration advocates and ethnic identity politicians. But everyday Californians – the taxpayers – know that sanctuary, no matter how it’s sugar-coated, protects criminals and is an indefensible public policy. They’re rooting for Homan.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.