By Joe Guzzardi
December 26, 2016
Judging by California’s political landscape, I got out of the state where I was born and grew up just in the nick of time. Sacramento has slowly but dramatically drifted far away from the mainstream, and is poised to move further left. California activists crazily want the state to secede, and legislators are making bold but frantic, illogical comments about how they plan to defy President-elect Donald Trump on immigration. Universities, local school districts and religious leaders have joined in the anti-Trump fray.
The ill-conceived secession proposal appears grounded compared to state legislators’ desire to formally declare California a sanctuary state. Even though California passed the Trust Act in 2013 that makes most non-criminal illegal immigrants safe from deportation, that’s not enough. Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, expressing the legislature’s collective mindset, challenged President-elect Donald Trump: “If you want to get to (immigrants), you have to go through us.”
Rendon’s legislative colleague, Marc Levine, falsely, irresponsibly and outrageously accused Trump of having pursued an “ethnic cleansing agenda.” Adding fuel to the fire, California Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León said that California would not stand by and let federal authorities forcibly “separate mothers from their children,” the old canard that, if it ever had happened, would be headline news in every state newspaper.
Finally, for now anyway, State Senator Ricardo Lara introduced three bills as part of his “Fight for California” package that would prohibit state agencies from sharing with the federal government information about a resident’s religion, require voter approval before building a border wall on environmentally sensitive land and bar contracting with private immigrant detention facilities.
The inflammatory rhetoric of Rendon, Levine and Lara creates anxiety in the illegal immigrant community, and also fails to reflect what Trump has repeatedly said in his post-election immigration comments. First, Trump has pledged to deport the nation’s estimated 2 to 3 million criminal aliens, and simultaneously secure the border. After those two objectives are achieved – no easy or short-term task – then and only then will Trump decide the fate of the remaining illegal immigrants.
Although California’s leaders, from Gov. Jerry Brown on down, repeatedly refer to the residents they’re defending as immigrants, they are illegal aliens, a huge distinction. An immigrant enters the U.S. through a recognized port of entry and with a valid visa.
Sacramento is making a huge gamble that it can’t win. Trump and incoming Attorney General Jeff Sessions are committed to enforcing immigration law. Under no circumstance would California be allowed to proceed under its own set of immigration laws, while the other 49 states comply. Strong hints have come from the new administration that it will withhold federal funding to states that don’t cooperate on immigration.
Earlier this year, the Department of Justice’s Inspector General confirmed that California is in violation of federal law, and DOJ could strip noncompliant states and municipalities of part of their federal funding. At risk based on past funding for California is $93.6 billion, a staggering amount that the $440 billion Wall-of-Debt-burdened state couldn’t possibly pay.
To hear the Sacramento extremists wailing, the impression conveyed is that illegal immigrants represent the state’s majority. Of California’s more than 39 million people, an estimated 3 million reside unlawfully, less than 10 percent. The others, citizens and legal permanent residents, long for a semblance of immigration sanity out of Sacramento. But at this rate, none will be forthcoming unless the federal government imposes it.
Joe Guzzardi is a Senior Writing Fellow with Californians for Population Stabilization. A former Californian, Joe now lives in Pittsburgh, PA. Contact him at [email protected] and on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.