California is going for the jugular in its fight against the Trump administration policy on deporting undocumented immigrants. With one-eighth of the united States’ population and one-seventh of the U.S. GDP, rising faster than any other state, it has the credibility to do so.
Gov. Jerry Brown, in his fourth term with a 61 percent approval rating, considers immigrants the primary reason for California’s success.
While San Francisco has touted itself as a “sanctuary city,” lawmakers in Sacramento introduced a bill that would make the entire state a no fly zone for federal immigration authorities. The California Values Act would severely limit cooperation between local law enforcement and federal agents. The bill would eliminate the ability of federal authorities to order the local police to detain immigrants, investigate their status of or share information without a warrant. Also, this bill would create safe havens for undocumented immigrants in public venues.
The most influential opposition to this piece of legislation is the California Sheriff’s Association, which fears that taking the federal government out of the lines of communication could allow a violent criminal to slip through the cracks.
This fear comes despite evidence indicating that immigrants are not more likely to be criminals than native-born citizens.
A 2015 study by the American Immigration Council found that not only are immigrants less likely to commit serious crimes or be incarcerated than native-born residents, but high rates of immigration correlate with even lower rates of violent and property crimes.
And a recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that between 1990 and 2014, the population of undocumented people living in the United States rose. Also during this time, arrests for drunk driving and drugs decreased.
According to Reuters, “Contrary to the [political] rhetoric, with every 1 percent increase in the proportion of undocumented immigrants in a population of 100,000, there were 42 fewer drunken-driving arrests, 22 fewer drug arrests and roughly one less drug overdose, the study found.”
“Our study takes a step toward informing these debates with the available data, which says that as the prevalence of undocumented immigrants increases in society, the prevalence of drug and alcohol problems do not increase in tandem,” sociology professor Michael Light, who also led the study, said in an interview with Reuters. “In fact, the data seem to suggest the opposite.”
Reuters further reported:
“The number of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. tripled from an estimated 3.5 million in 1990 to an estimated 10.9 million in 2014. At the same time, violent crime rates fell by half, giving pause to arguments that unlawful immigrants increase violent crime, Light said.”
Although the California bill would still honor federal warrants, agents would not be permitted to conduct investigations with local law enforcement except in very specific situations. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will lose the right to request a person be detained when they would otherwise be released.
The LAPD does not agree with their fellow men and women in blue. They feel this bill will make their jobs easier because undocumented immigrants could report a crime without fear of deportation. When expressing his support of the bill in June, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, “The ability to get witnesses to come forward, the ability to get victims to come forward can be severely detrimental by civil enforcement of immigration by local authorities.”
When you look at the numbers, it is clear why the liberal leaning California representatives want to protect this population. It is estimated that nearly one in every three Californians is foreign born and half of the children have at least one immigrant parent. Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein and House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D) have been leading the charge against the President’s latest proposal that would make the immigration system merit based assigning points based on employment and education level.
The bill is set to move forward when the state assembly returns from recess on August 21st.