Voters should decide ‘sanctuary’ for undocumented violent felons
Sixty-five percent of Hispanics, 70 percent of independents, 73 percent of Democrats and 82 percent of Republicans agreed that “local authorities should not be able to ignore a federal request to hold a detained person who is in the country illegally.
When it comes to dangerous and violent unauthorized-immigrant felons, California voters, not lawmakers, should decide sanctuary policy. This is first and foremost a crime issue and secondarily an immigration issue.
Sacramento lawmakers, provoked by the Trump administration’s defunding threats, are considering new legislation, SB54. The bill’s requirements make San Francisco’s sanctuary city ordinance look moderate in comparison. The California Values Act would effectively prohibit all California cities, schools, including charter schools, and public hospitals, from cooperating with federal immigration authorities — including with regard to violent felons in the country illegally. The bill prohibits “detaining an individual on the basis of a hold request” issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement or Customs and Border Protection as well as any other federal immigration authorities.
Our lawmakers in Sacramento, who are working to make California a sanctuary state, are disconnected with the voters with regard to the sanctuary policy.
A recent Institute of Government Studies-UC Berkeley poll shows 74 percent of Californians want an end to sanctuary cities. Sixty-five percent of Hispanics, 70 percent of independents, 73 percent of Democrats and 82 percent of Republicans agreed that “local authorities should not be able to ignore a federal request to hold a detained person who is in the country illegally.” Institute Director Jack Citrin, a professor of political science at UC Berkeley, noted that the poll was conducted in English and consisted almost entirely of citizens.
In February, two other polls captured the sentiment of the state’s voters. A McLaughlin & Associates poll of likely voters conducted for Secure America Now found that a majority of Hispanic voters approved the deportation of criminal immigrants in the national illegally, 56 percent to 31 percent.
And a KPIX 5 Survey USA poll showed that 53 percent of those polled believed that local law enforcement should always contact federal authorities about unauthorized immigrants who commit violent crimes.
“Steinle’s alleged shooter was in the country illegally and has multiple felony convictions and deportations. If convicted, and if he completes his prescribed prison time and is ready to be released, SB54 will prohibit the local authority from contacting immigration authorities.”
Now is the time to act.
We should let our representatives in Sacramento know that we do not support releasing unauthorized immigrants who are dangerous and violent felons back into our communities. Time is of the essence. SB54 is on a fast track for passage and will become law immediately after the governor signs it.
Second, it is time for citizens and anticrime advocacy groups to put the question to a vote, both locally and on the state level.
This is not a Republican or conservative position. The Obama administration set a priority of deporting immigrants living in the U.S. illegally who have criminal convictions. Since 2013, approximately 530,000 convicted criminals were expelled. Under Obama’s directive, the priorities were those who had committed at least one felony or a misdemeanor of significance — such as drunken driving or dealing drugs — or three misdemeanors.
The widely publicized killing of Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco figured prominently in candidate Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric. But put the sensationalism aside. Steinle’s alleged shooter was in the country illegally and has multiple felony convictions and deportations. If convicted, and if he completes his prescribed prison time and is ready to be released, SB54 will prohibit the local authority from contacting immigration authorities.
It is an outrage he would be released into the community.
We must turn our outrage into action. We, who live in California and in sanctuary cities, have stood by as our elected representatives ignored our safety concerns and passed strict sanctuary ordinances in defiance of our wishes.
Voters in every sanctuary city and statewide, not lawmakers, must decide if dangerous and violent undocumented felons will be released into or removed from our communities.