An ad campaign denouncing California's sanctuary cities launched this week on San Diego televisions.
The campaign, created by Californians for Population Stabilization or CAPS, opposes local and state government policies against full cooperation with federal immigration authorities. It features Don Rosenberg, whose son Drew was killed in a collision with an immigrant driver. In one version of the ad, Rosenberg asks President Donald Trump to withhold federal funding from sanctuary cities. In a second version of the ad, he calls on California to move away from sanctuary policies.
"California should be a sanctuary for Californians,” Rosenberg says as a picture of Gov. Jerry Brown appears. “Imagine if Drew had been his son.”
Drew Rosenberg was killed in November 2010 in San Francisco in an accident involving Roberto Galo, who was driving without a license. Rosenberg was on a motorcycle, and Galo turned left into Rosenberg in an intersection. Rosenberg's helmet came off his head and got stuck under the car, according to witness testimony in court records. Galo drove over Rosenberg's body several times trying to get the helmet loose from his car, witnesses said. When he finally stopped, one of his tires was on top of Galo's abdomen.
Galo was charged with vehicular manslaughter and later deported in 2013.
Galo, originally from Honduras, entered the U.S. without permission and later received temporary protected status, which grants limited permission for people to stay in the U.S. due to conflict or disaster at home.
Don Rosenberg, who considers himself a liberal and lives in the Los Angeles area, blames San Francisco's sanctuary mentality for Galo being on the road to begin with since Galo had already been caught without a license, he said.
“Sanctuary cities are more than not turning people over to (Immigration and Customs Enforcment). They’re ignoring laws,” Rosenberg said by telephone. “My issue is not one of, ‘Yeah, you should’ve called ICE.’ My issue is you don’t enforce the law against these people, even when they break laws, not immigration law, just any law.”
Pedro Rios, director for the U.S.-Mexico Border Program with the American Friends Service Committee, criticized the ad campaign.
“This is CAPS’ latest shameful attempt to exploit the emotions of people who have lost loved ones in unfortunate incidents, to advance an anti-immigrant agenda that fuels hate, intolerance, and misunderstanding,” Rios said by email. “The Southern Poverty Law Center labeled CAPS as a hate group because of its associations with white supremacist groups, so its message originates from that vantage point, and therefore cannot be trusted.”
The Rev. Kathleen Owens, minister at First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego and leader with the San Diego Organizing Project, said, “The death of a child by any means is tragic, and as a minister, I believe a whole community of people should not be judged by the action of one person. What I’ve heard is that cities are willing to cooperate with Immigration and Customs officials when those officials have followed our laws by presenting a warrant for a specific person. I want our lawmakers to finally get serious about reforming our immigration system rather than continuing to talk tough with no action plan for change and reform."
Sheriff Bill Gore has repeatedly said that San Diego is not a sanctuary jurisdiction because immigration officials work in the county's jails.
Rosenberg said he was not familiar with San Diego's policies in order to say whether or not it is a sanctuary, but he is concerned about Senate Bill 54, a measure that would limit law enforcement cooperation across the state with federal immigration officials.
“I don’t think there’s an area in California other than a few really deep, deep red pockets that don’t to some extent give sanctuary,” Rosenberg said. “I’d be hard pressed to say that San Diego doesn’t do any of that. How much they do, I couldn’t tell you.”
“This isn’t about San Diego,” Rosenberg added. “This is about S.B. 54, which makes the whole state a sanctuary. If that bill passes and the governor signs it, the whole state becomes a sanctuary.”
The ads are running on One America News, a cable news network based in San Diego.