Sam Abed might have just gotten himself reelected mayor by virtue of last week’s action by the Escondido City Council filing a friend of the court brief supporting the lawsuit by the U.S. Justice Department challenging California’s “sanctuary state” law—a law that hamstrings local police from cooperating with the federal immigration authorities. The only thing that might prevent that from happening is if enough people didn’t see the televised hearing or attend the meeting.
Or if they didn’t hear the mayor declare “I was elected mayor to uphold the constitution and keep our community safe. Public safety is our top priority.” Which is apparently more than what Jerry Brown and the legislature in Sacramento are willing to say.
The official name for the act that Escondido voted to take a stand against is the “California Values Act” which might just a well be the “Mom and Apple Pie Act” and convey about as much information as to what it accomplishes. In other words, it lacks precision. It also demonstrates that authors of bills can call them whatever they like, whether or not they actually represent the content.
An example would be the federal “Patriot Act,” an insidious law that commits all sorts of crimes against freedom in the name of making us more secure. How Patriotic is that? The “California Values Act” is such a name and such a law—and it definitely makes us less secure.
What’s more, despite all the hoopla at Wednesday’s meeting about how the city was “wasting money” and inviting a lawsuit, it’s action was a simple one. To file a brief with the court saying that it is impacted negatively by the state law. And really, who can argue with that? Sure, you can hold your breath and stamp your feet with disapproval, but ANY law that prevents the city police from obtaining as much information about suspects as possible makes everybody in the city less safe.
The whole televised city council hearing was great “performance art,” and jibes nicely with Orwell’s notion that “all art is propaganda.” Both sides shored up their base with people that agree with them, and it is unlikely that either camp made any converts. However, I think there’s little doubt that the pro-immigration side showed a non-yielding “we have all the rights; you have no rights—oh by the way, learn Spanish” posture that most reasonable people will translate as threatening. Especially since most of those making these outrageous claims were by their own admission from out of town.
There are few things in the world more irritating than having outsiders come into your town to lecture you about how immoral you are. Yes, I’m aware that several local high schoolers chose to adopt the super-aggressive posture that makes them feel empowered, but which earns them zilch political points with anyone who is not already committed to the “no borders” position. Most people would react to being preached at in this fashion: “Grow up. Pay Taxes. Vote. Then we’ll take you seriously.”
Having a bunch of “in-your-face” political activists promulgating the (there’s no other way of saying it) offensive notion that anyone who wants to cross the border is as much a citizen of the U.S.A. as those who were born here, and the equally moronic idea that “we didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us” is pretty much guaranteed to solidify opposition to the immigration lobby. There are plenty of people who sympathize with the so-called “Dreamers” a cognomen like “pro-life” or “racist” where propaganda is baked into the crust—but who recoil with distaste when some kid demands as his “right” something that is, at BEST, a favor granted because we are a good and generous people who don’t believe in punishing children for the sins of their parents.
Olga Diaz’s idea that there is nothing wrong with a state law that prevents the police from sharing information and getting information in return is kind of squishy, but that was the stance taking by those adopting a more reasonable approach Wednesday. Instead of the “We are here whether you like it or not!” approach, her point was that the vote would have little practical effect. In other words, that it was political theater.
But that fails to hold water if you take seriously Escondido’s police chief, Craig Carter, who, admitted to the council that the state law “put us in a very difficult spot. I can tell you that prior to the law we had ICE officers in the station and we cooperated with each other.” What the state law means is that if police arrest someone they have no way to find out of the person is someone who would be expelled from the country for violating our immigration laws.
There is no possible universe in which California doesn’t lose this lawsuit. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled several times that on issues of immigration enforcement the federal government reigns supreme. The Obama administration slapped down Arizona when it tried to enforce immigration laws that were more stringent than the federal government, and California is going to be whupped for trying to tie the hands of local officials who might want to share information with ICE for reasons of security.
Meanwhile, the city election campaign has opened up in earnest. Immigration is going to be the issue this November.