CA to become sanctuary state?

August 27, 2012

By Katy Grimes

SACRAMENTO — Immigration issues within states are becoming more prevalent. The usual complaints are that the federal government isn’t doing enough to enforce U.S. policy.

California is different. Earlier this year, it already embarked into uncharted territories, with the state Legislature voting to allow the children of undocumented aliens to attend the state’s public universities and colleges, at estimated costs of $65 million a year in financial aid and scholarships.

California: Sanctuary State

There have been many failed attempts to pass state laws allowing undocumented immigrants to live and work in California without the constant threat of deportation. Many say that this should have sent a clear message to lawmakers. Even a ballot initiative, the California Opportunity and Prosperity Act, failed to get enough signatures to quality for the November ballot.

“But noooooo,” as John Belushi used to say on “Saturday Night Live.”

Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, D-Sylmar, together with Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, revived the attempt. In one of the most repugnant moves legislators can make, they gutted and amended SB 901, breathing new life into creating a “safe harbor” for illegal immigrants in California.

The sanctuary discussions began with allowing counties to opt in or out of becoming sanctuary counties. But when SB 901 was gutted and amended to include the new language, Steinberg used language that would make the entire state a sanctuary state.

But that’s not all, folks.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, led a contentious conversation in the Assembly Friday surrounding illegal immigrants over his bill, AB 1081, which seeks to remove the teeth of the Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Secure Communities program.

Current law requires local law enforcement agencies to submit arrestees’ fingerprints to ICE, as well as several other Federal Bureau of Investigation databases, then have these federal agencies access the arrestee’s documented criminal and immigration history.

But according to Ammiano, this federal program is problematic because it allows local police agencies to investigate and enforce immigration laws on anyone in the U.S. illegally, instead of just pursuing and arresting the most dangerous illegal immigrants.

Picking and choosing which lawbreakers get deported is apparently what Ammiano wants California law enforcement to be able to do.

 California reality

California has more than a $16 billion deficit, but spends $21 billion annually on illegal, undocumented aliens. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, “Illegal immigrants make up about 28 percent of all foreign-born U.S. residents and slightly less than 4 percent of the  nation’s total population.” And according to the PPIC, “California has a higher share than the rest of the nation of illegal immigrants from Mexico. It has more illegal immigrants overall than any other state—an estimated 2.6 million.”

Apparently not content with spending money the state doesn’t have, lawmakers want to turn California into a sanctuary state.

Sanctuary cities

California is already home to more than 30 Sanctuary cities. Sanctuary cities offer  protection to illegal aliens and assistance through welfare benefits, along with refusing enforce the federal immigration laws, thereby offering sanctuary to those in the country illegally, and using taxpayer funds to support them.

In 2010, Los Angeles County spent  $52 million in welfare benefits to illegal immigrants. By the beginning of 2011, that figure jumped to nearly $600 million.

In 2008, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, at the time the mayor of San Francisco, publicized the city’s sanctuary status in a  press release for San Francisco’s Sanctuary City Outreach Program.  Newsome tried to backtrack after it was discovered that the city’s sanctuary policy had protected illegal alien gang members accused of committing serious crimes, including murder.  “In 2009, Newsom attempted to veto an ordinance passed by San Francisco’s even more radical Board of Supervisors which prohibited illegal aliens charged with crimes from being detained by the Department of Homeland Security,” Ohio Jobs and Justice Pac reported.

Hardship stories

Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, argued in favor of making California a sanctuary state, On Friday, he told the story of how a Sacramento woman who is in the state illegally was recently arrested “for selling tamales and trying to feed her family.”

Perez didn’t tell the entire story, but Assemblyman Brian Jones, R-Santee, did. Jones reminded lawmakers that the woman had been in the United States for 16 years and had been arrested several times for trespassing on private property.

For every story about personal hardship the media portrays, there are even more about illegal criminal aliens arrested for felony drunk driving, drug crimes, gang violence, vehicular manslaughter, murder, robberies, identity theft, and myriad other dangerous crimes.

“Illegal aliens are involved in criminal activities at a rate that is 2-5 times their representative proportion of the population,” according to P.F. Wagner, the author of “The Dark Side of Illegal Immigration.”

Impacts of legislation

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, strongly opposed AB 1081, and said that  issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants rewards law breakers. “Not only is this wildly unpopular among the citizens, but it creates a national security risk,” said Donnelly in an interview.

“It is baffling that, every time our laws become inconvenient for people who are here illegally, we create a new exemption,” he said. “This pattern of pandering is a slap in the face to the law-abiding citizens and to the dedicated families and individuals who have waited for the opportunity to become Americans. We are going to give them California drivers licenses, allow them to vote, pay their college tuition and allow them to become lawyers.”

Donnelly challenged Ammiano Friday on the name of the bill, the “Trust Act,” and said it was “an insult to everyone in this country legally. It should be called the ‘Anti-Trust Act.'”

“We can’t debate the facts anymore,” Donnelly said. “The liberals claim that we don’t want diversity. But it’s liberals who don’t want legal immigrants. Because the immigrants who came here legally, they wave the flag, build businesses, and are fiscal conservatives. They understand what freedom means.”

Both bills have been passed by the Legislature, along party lines, and are headed to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature or veto.

If the governor signs these bills and California becomes a sanctuary state for illegal immigrants, many are saying that Brown could be a one-term governor, or even face a recall. The bills have been whisked through without public input, and were drastically amended, demonstrating that California’s Democrat-controlled Legislature favors its own process over the people of the state.

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