Brown is right about ‘sanc­tu­ary’

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - In sacramento

Gov. Jerry Brown again is try­ing to save Demo­cratic leg­is­la­tors from their left­ist selves. This time he’s stop­ping them from pro­tect­ing crim­i­nals.

The gov­er­nor fi­nally has spo­ken out un­equiv­o­cally re­gard­ing the Democrats’ so-called sanc­tu­ary state leg­is­la­tion.

What he’s say­ing makes sense: Sure, help the peo­ple who mi­grated here il­le­gally but are con­tribut­ing pos­i­tively to the state. But cor­ral the crooks and de­port them.

Here’s how Brown put it on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sun­day:

“We want to be very un­der­stand­ing of peo­ple who have come to our state, have worked in our econo-

‘I take a more nu­anced and care­ful ap­proach to deal­ing with what is a dif­fi­cult prob­lem.’ —Gov. Jerry Brown

my, of­ten for decades, pick­ing our food, work­ing in our restau­rants, work­ing in high-tech in­dus­try. The whole range of what con­sti­tutes the life of Cal­i­for­nia has been con­trib­uted to by many of these im­mi­grants that are not doc­u­mented.

“And we want to make sure we help them to the ex­tent that the law of Cal­i­for­nia can co­ex­ist with the law of the United States.”

But, the gov­er­nor con­tin­ued: “It is a bal­anc­ing act. It does re­quire some sen­si­tiv­ity. And that’s why I take a more nu­anced and care­ful ap­proach to deal­ing with what is a dif­fi­cult prob­lem.

“Be­cause you do have peo­ple who are not here legally. They’ve com­mit­ted crimes. They have no busi­ness in the United States in the man­ner in which they’ve come and con­ducted them­selves sub­se­quently.”

Brown had been asked about SB 54, au­thored by Se­nate leader Kevin de León (D-Los An­ge­les). It would ex­tend to the en­tire state many of the pro­tec­tions that al­ready ex­ist in so-called sanc­tu­ary cities and coun­ties, in­clud­ing Los An­ge­les, San Diego and San Fran­cisco. It also would strengthen those pro­tec­tions.

The bill would se­verely limit state and lo­cal cops’ abil­ity to help fed­eral agents en­force im­mi­gra­tion laws. That’s fine. State and lo­cal tax money should not be spent on en­forc­ing fed­eral laws. Cal­i­for­nia al­ready has plenty of laws es­sen­tially go­ing un­en­forced be­cause there aren’t enough po­lice to do it.

But the prob­lem with SB 54 is that it would also help con­victed crim­i­nals who are here il­le­gally avoid U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment agents.

Un­der the bill, state prison of­fi­cials and lo­cal jail­ers could no­tify the feds about the pend­ing re­lease of an in­mate here il­le­gally only if he’d been con­victed of a “se­ri­ous” or “vi­o­lent” felony. If he were about to be freed af­ter serv­ing time for a lesser of­fense, ICE couldn’t be in­formed un­less the guy pre­vi­ously had been con­victed of a se­ri­ous or vi­o­lent felony.

That ex­cludes a bunch of other crimes, such as bur­glary, hu­man traf­fick­ing, assault on a po­lice of­fi­cer, sex­ual bat­tery, spousal abuse, so­lic­it­ing a mur­der and drunk driv­ing while caus­ing se­vere in­jury.

“As writ­ten, this bill pro­tects crim­i­nals and jeop­ar­dizes pub­lic safety,” Santa Bar­bara County Sher­iff Bill Brown told re­porters on a con­fer­ence call Tues­day. He’s pres­i­dent of the Cal­i­for­nia State Sher­iffs’ Assn., which strongly op­poses the bill.

“It pro­vides sanc­tu­ar­ies to crim­i­nals,” he asserted.

Gov. Brown ob­jects to the sanc­tu­ary tag, as does De León — adamantly.

“That bill does not de­clare Cal­i­for­nia a sanc­tu­ary state,” the gov­er­nor in­sisted on “Meet the Press.”

Asked to ex­plain, Brown re­sponded: “Well, as a for­mer sem­i­nar­ian, I have a very clear im­age of the sanc­tu­ary. It’s in a church. It con­jures up me­dieval sanc­tu­ary places….

“The goal here is to block and not to col­lab­o­rate with abuse of fed­eral power. That’s the goal.”

OK, “sanc­tu­ary” is not a pre­cise and per­fect han­dle. But it’s much closer to re­al­ity than De León’s spin­tag: the “Cal­i­for­nia Val­ues Act.”

Right now, the bill has “Wil­lie Hor­ton” writ­ten all over it. Wil­lie Hor­ton was a con­victed mur­derer, a black man who raped a preg­nant white woman and tor­tured her fi­ancé while on a fur­lough from a Mas­sachusetts prison. Michael S. Dukakis was the gov­er­nor, which vot­ers were re­minded of by Ge­orge H.W. Bush in an odor­ous TV ad when the two ran for pres­i­dent in 1988.

Closer to home, there’s the 2015 fa­tal shoot­ing in San Fran­cisco of Kate Steinle, 32, by a Mex­i­can na­tional who had served three fed­eral prison terms for felony reen­try into the coun­try. The shooter had been un­der the San Fran­cisco sher­iff ’s cus­tody on a drug charge. He was re­leased with­out fed­eral agents be­ing no­ti­fied, although they’d asked to be. This was a sanc­tu­ary city, af­ter all.

Brown, De León and the sher­iffs say they’ve been try­ing to reach a com­pro­mise.

But they haven’t been try­ing very hard re­cently. Sacramento cur­rently is in slumber mode. The Leg­is­la­ture is off on its sum­mer va­ca­tion. Noth­ing’s hap­pen­ing.

Fran­tic chaos will re­turn when the Leg­is­la­ture re­con­venes Aug. 21. Then the law­mak­ers will have four weeks to pass their bills be­fore they ad­journ for the year.

The sanc­tu­ary bill al­ready has zipped through the Se­nate and two Assem­bly com­mit­tees on party­line votes. The mea­sure’s next hur­dle is the Assem­bly Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee, an easy leap. Then there’ll be the Assem­bly floor vote. A sim­ple ma­jor­ity is all that’s re­quired.

But un­less the crim­i­nal cod­dling is re­moved, Brown won’t sign the bill.

He has been rerout­ing Democrats from their left­ward drifts for years, prin­ci­pally on spend­ing and bor­row­ing. But he also de­serves credit for tac­itly en­cour­ag­ing Assem­bly Speaker An­thony Ren­don (D-Para­mount) to wisely stomp on a sloppy, pro­hib­i­tively ex­pen­sive sin­gle­payer uni­ver­sal health­care bill that the Se­nate ir­re­spon­si­bly passed.

Fix­ing the sanc­tu­ary state bill should be a no­brainer. Pro­tect the good law-abiders. Help the feds boot the bad guys.

ge­orge.skel­ton @la­times.com Twit­ter: @LATimesSkel­ton

Gina Ferazzi Los An­ge­les Times

MAYA CASILLAS joins in an im­mi­gra­tion protest in Jan­uary. A state bill would limit state and lo­cal of­fi­cers’ abil­ity to help U.S. agents en­force im­mi­gra­tion laws.

Pa­trick T. Fal­lon For The Times

SE­NATE LEADER Kevin de León’s bill would ex­tend pro­tec­tions for un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants.

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