Op­po­si­tion to sanc­tu­ary spreads in Calif

Pol­i­tics at play where GOP has grown weak

Arab Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

SANTA ANA, Cal­i­for­nia, April 16, (AP): More lo­cal gov­ern­ments in Cal­i­for­nia are re­sist­ing the state’s ef­forts to re­sist the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s im­mi­gra­tion crack­down, and po­lit­i­cal ex­perts see pol­i­tics at play as Repub­li­cans try to fire up vot­ers in a state where the GOP has grown weak.

Since the Jeff Ses­sions-led Depart­ment of Jus­tice sued Cal­i­for­nia last month over its so-called “sanc­tu­ary state” law lim­it­ing po­lice col­lab­o­ra­tion with im­mi­gra­tion agents, at least a dozen lo­cal gov­ern­ments have voted to ei­ther join or sup­port the law­suit or for res­o­lu­tions op­pos­ing the state’s po­si­tion. Those in­clude the Board of Su­per­vi­sors in Orange County, which has more than 3 mil­lion peo­ple.

More ac­tion is com­ing this week, with lead­ers in the Orange County city of Los Alami­tos sched­uled to vote Mon­day on a pro­posal for a lo­cal law to ex­empt the com­mu­nity of 12,000 from the state law.

On Tues­day, the San Diego County Board of Su­per­vi­sors is meet­ing to con­sider join­ing the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion law­suit.

Im­mi­gra­tion has been a hot topic across the coun­try since Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump cam­paigned in 2016 on prom­ises of tougher en­force­ment and a wall on the US-Mex­ico bor­der. It has been a light­ning rod is­sue in Cal­i­for­nia far longer.

The state passed a mea­sure backed by Repub­li­can Gov Pete Wil­son in the 1990s to deny pub­lic health care and ed­u­ca­tion to im­mi­grants in the coun­try il­le­gally. It was later over­turned but left a lin­ger­ing re­sent­ment among the state’s grow­ing His­panic pop­u­la­tion.

In re­cent years, Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­cans have taken a less stri­dent ap­proach to im­mi­gra­tion in a state where one in four peo­ple are for­eign-born. But the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion law­suit has en­er­gized many in a party that has been ren­dered nearly ir­rel­e­vant at the state level, where Democrats con­trol ev­ery key of­fice.

“When the at­tor­ney gen­eral of the United States de­cides to take a firm po­si­tion against it, I think that gave a sig­nal to a lot of us that, ‘Hey, Cal­i­for­nia is on the wrong side of this thing,’” said Fred Whi­taker, chair­man of the Repub­li­can Party in Orange County. He also is a coun­cil­man in the city of Orange who pro­posed a lo­cal res­o­lu­tion on the is­sue that passed last week.

Raphael So­nen­shein, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Pat Brown In­sti­tute for Pub­lic Af­fairs at Cal­i­for­nia State Univer­sity, Los An­ge­les, said it’s not sur­pris­ing Repub­li­cans are gal­va­niz­ing over im­mi­gra­tion.


“Pol­i­tics is very much about emo­tions, es­pe­cially in midterms,” he said. “I think it was only a mat­ter of time when peo­ple went back to the is­sue that ac­tu­ally hits the nerve in the Repub­li­can base these days more than any other.”

Under Demo­cratic lead­er­ship, Cal­i­for­nia has en­acted a se­ries of laws in re­cent years aimed at help­ing im­mi­grants, in­clud­ing is­su­ing driver’s li­censes re­gard­less of le­gal sta­tus and as­sist­ing with tu­ition at state uni­ver­si­ties. Af­ter Trump was elected, law­mak­ers passed the mea­sure to limit po­lice col­lab­o­ra­tion with fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion agents.

Im­mi­grant and civil rights ad­vo­cates ap­plauded the mea­sure, known as SB54, as a way to en­cour­age im­mi­grants to re­port crime to po­lice with­out fear­ing de­por­ta­tion. Crit­ics said it would make it too hard for fed­eral agents to find and de­port ex-con­victs who are a dan­ger to com­mu­ni­ties.

Most of the lo­cal gov­ern­ments sid­ing with the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion are in Orange County, an area once con­sid­ered a GOP strong­hold but that voted for Hil­lary Clin­ton in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. But it’s start­ing to spread.

Es­con­dido in neigh­bor­ing San Diego County has voted to sup­port the fed­eral law­suit and last week the small city of Ripon in the state’s Cen­tral Val­ley did the same.

In many cases, meet­ings on the is­sue have drawn bois­ter­ous crowds. Anti-il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion ac­tivists have trav­eled from city to city to at­tend, height­en­ing ten­sions with those who want their com­mu­ni­ties to sup­port im­mi­grant-friendly poli­cies or stay out of the fray.

In re­sponse to the con­tro­versy, some lo­cal gov­ern­ments have taken the op­po­site ap­proach. Lead­ers in Santa Ana, an Orange County city home to about 330,000 res­i­dents, voted to sup­port Cal­i­for­nia in the law­suit.

Some of the su­per­vi­sors push­ing the is­sue in Orange and San Diego coun­ties are Repub­li­cans run­ning for Congress and they may see this as a way to gen­er­ate needed en­thu­si­asm, said Louis DeSi­pio, a po­lit­i­cal sci­ence pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Irvine.

“The mo­bi­liza­tion that could come from in­tro­duc­ing im­mi­gra­tion de­bates into county po­lit­i­cal races may be a crit­i­cal el­e­ment in a year like 2018 when Democrats will likely be more mo­bi­lized than Repub­li­cans,” he said.

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