Cal­i­for­ni­ans need a chill pill

The Mercury News - - Other Views - By Dan Wal­ters Dan Wal­ters is a CalMat­ters colum­nist.

It's time for lib­eral Cal­i­for­ni­ans — and that ap­pears to be most of us — to take a chill pill.

Their bit­ter dis­dain for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump — and by ex­ten­sion ev­ery­one who voted for him, be­longs to his party or even agrees with any of his bom­bas­tic pro­nounce­ments — is lead­ing them into blind al­leys.

The very lib­eral Leg­is­la­ture was ready to de­clare the en­tire state a sanc­tu­ary for un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants, even some vi­o­lent crim­i­nals, un­til a cooler head, Gov. Jerry Brown, in­ter­vened and forced re­moval of the most ex­treme lan­guage.

How­ever, Brown's hand­picked at­tor­ney gen­eral, Xavier Be­cerra, went bal­lis­tic over Trump's with­drawal of pre­de­ces­sor Barack Obama's “De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals” ex­ec­u­tive or­der grant­ing 800,000 “dream­ers” — those who were brought il­le­gally into the coun­try as chil­dren — a re­prieve from de­por­ta­tion.

Be­cerra sued to over­turn Trump's ac­tion, declar­ing, “In Cal­i­for­nia, we don't just sup­port and value them — we fight for them (and) we will not per­mit Don­ald Trump to de­stroy the lives of young im­mi­grants who make Cal­i­for­nia and our coun­try stronger.”

That's cer­tainly a pop­u­lar position in Cal­i­for­nia, but think about its po­ten­tial ram­i­fi­ca­tions.

It's en­tirely pos­si­ble, even likely, that the DACA de­cree was an il­le­gal act unto it­self be­cause Pres­i­dent Obama may have ex­ceeded his ex­ec­u­tive au­thor­ity. By su­ing to chal­lenge Trump's with­drawal, Be­cerra is running a very real risk that the fed­eral courts will con­firm DACA's il­le­gal­ity.

More­over, DACA never was in­tended to be a per­ma­nent ex­emp­tion, but rather a respite un­til Congress set­tled on a larger re­form of im­mi­gra­tion that would give law-abid­ing un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants a path­way to le­git­i­macy.

Sadly, that hasn't hap­pened, but it's pos­si­ble — maybe not prob­a­ble, but pos­si­ble — that by giv­ing DACA a six-month dead­line, Trump will prod Congress into act­ing on the dream­ers, and per­haps even on the larger is­sue.

How­ever, it's less likely to hap­pen if Cal­i­for­nia's law­suit, and oth­ers, still are mak­ing their way through the courts. And if DACA is de­clared in­valid, the ef­fort to pre­serve it will have com­pletely back­fired. Mean­while, Cal­i­for­nia's bel­li­cos­ity over sanc­tu­ary will only po­lar­ize the sit­u­a­tion more, and make it even less likely that com­pre­hen­sive im­mi­gra­tion re­form will emerge.

Un­til DACA is sorted out, hun­dreds of thou­sands of mostly young im­mi­grants, in­clud­ing the 200,000 in Cal­i­for­nia, will fear their lives will be turned up­side down. They de­serve our sym­pa­thy, and even­tu­ally ac­tion to pro­tect them, but a tem­po­rary or­der by a for­mer pres­i­dent was never a strong pro­tec­tive bar­rier.

Im­mi­gra­tion is not the only sub­ject on which less heat, and more calm re­flec­tion, is war­ranted.

In lib­eral Cal­i­for­ni­ans' zeal­ous as­ser­tion of in­de­pen­dence from Trump and what they re­gard as Trump­ism, they are be­com­ing il­lib­eral them­selves.

A new statewide poll of Cal­i­for­nia vot­ers by the In­sti­tute of Govern­men­tal Stud­ies at UC Berke­ley con­firms anew the broad dis­dain for Trump, but found a trou­bling will­ing­ness to sup­press those on the other end of the po­lit­i­cal scale.

Asked whether “we have gone too far' in al­low­ing demon­stra­tions by white na­tion­al­ists, a plu­ral­ity of those vot­ers, 46 per­cent, agreed, while 43 per­cent said such demon­stra­tions should not be re­stricted.

Sym­pa­thy for sup­pres­sion of the con­sti­tu­tional right to demon­strate and speak was strong­est among Democrats and vot­ers de­scrib­ing them­selves as “very lib­eral” or “lib­eral.”

White na­tion­al­ists are a loath­some, if tiny, seg­ment of the pop­u­la­tion, par­tic­u­larly in Cal­i­for­nia, but they have the right to ex­press their na­tivist non­sense peace­fully, and sup­pres­sion of that right — par­tic­u­larly by violence-prone, self­pro­claimed “anti-fas­cists” — just makes them, un­de­servedly, sym­pa­thetic fig­ures.

Calm down, Cal­i­for­nia. You are just con­firm­ing the state's off-the-wall rep­u­ta­tion to the rest of the na­tion.

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