Who the heck does this guy think he is?
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra held a press conference Thursday ostensibly to ensure the (illegal) immigrant community of their rights should Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) come knocking on their door.
While he repeatedly used generic phrases in English and Spanish along the lines of “people have rights” and “we want to protect people’s privacy,” he laid out his specific expectations for federal immigration officers and employers.
By watching the entire 30-minute press conference (during which one has to suspend disbelief and take a few blood pressure pills or have a stiff drink) it’s apparent the real purpose of the “It’d be a shame if something happened to it” style press conference was to put the feds and employers on notice of new California laws designed to impede the enforcement of federal immigration laws.
Some other accounts gloss over Becerra’s defiant, threatening tone…
“He largely avoided discussing the rumors themselves, and instead focused on ensuring that residents are aware of privacy laws.”
…which was apparent from his opening statement (emphasis added).
“As the Attorney General and our state’s chief law enforcement officer, I take this very seriously and I want to make sure that people understand what their rights and their responsibilities are under the law… whether you are a law enforcement officer, employer, employee, resident, and certainly if you are a federal official, working under federal jurisdiction, in this case, immigration, all of us should know our rights and know our responsibilities when it comes to interacting with the people in the State of California.”
Noting rumors of increased immigration enforcement measures in Northern California, Becerra warned:
“Immigration enforcement must be done according to federal law and certainly according to the US Constitution. Local law enforcement, we always respect federal law and the US Constitution and we abide by state law as well. We would hope that just as California respects the constitution and our laws, that our partners in the federal government would do the same.”
He then references newly-enacted state laws specifically designed to prevent illegal aliens living in California from being discovered by the feds and deported. He attempts to say they’re just “privacy” laws, but when you look them up they only relate to immigration status – so they don’t apply to OTHER issues of privacy.
In 2018 there are some new laws in the state of California that have a role to play in how we go about our business, including when it involves federal immigration enforcement….The Department of Justice is still reviewing [these new statutes] and we will be preparing to issue guidance on the implementation of these two measures.
We hope to be able to give a clear picture of that these laws now mean for us…but the key to these new state laws is that they are a further effort to provide all of our people with the protection of our rights and our privacy.
In other words, we passed these laws that we’re really serious about and you’re obligated to follow, but we’re not gonna give you any guidelines or specifics. It’s taken them more than 18 months to issue proposed regulations for the “Gunpocalypse” bills signed in June 2016, (prompting a lawsuit from gun owners unable to comply with the law), so hey, why would anyone expect what amounts to the STATE’S LARGEST LAW FIRM to be able to actually do their job?
Becerra acknowledged the federal government’s jurisdiction over immigration, and that “we” (the state government) acknowledge and respect it.
We’re challenging the federal government’s ability to force California to do its federal immigration enforcement for it. We do challenge when federal immigration enforcement tries to tell our local law enforcement what they must do, and we’re prepared to challenge any actions by federal immigration enforcement that would violate the constitutional rights of those who live in the state of California.
This is setting up an intellectually and legally interesting, but frightening, situation. If the state believes federal immigration enforcement officers are breaking California laws, will they attempt to detain them? What happens then?
California employers are between a rock and a hard place with AB450, Becerra explained:
“This new law, in an effort to protect people’s privacy, makes sure that no one, but more specifically employers, voluntarily give up individuals – in this case employees’ – rights to privacy. So AB 450 tries to make sure that as an employer you are not sharing information that is not readily available to the public with anyone about your employees. And if you do so in violation of this new law, you are subjecting yourself to fines, up to $10,000, for violations of this new law.
And so I think it’s important that I specifically address our employers, our businesses…as the federal immigration authorities try to go about their work, to make sure it’s clear what you can and cannot do in respecting the rights and protections of the people of California in trying to respond to federal immigration enforcement authorities.
Please be sure you’re aware of this law. Talk to your attorney. Read the law.
Give it a rest, Xavier. Though you say throughout this presser that it’s an “effort to protect people’s privacy” (when you’re not saying that this is about public safety), it’s not about “people” or “privacy.” It’s only about employees whose immigration status could be called into question, and only pertains to “federal immigration agency immigration worksite enforcement actions.” It says right there in the Legislative Counsel’s Digest.
I am definitely a fan of privacy rights. But, hold on just a minute. Why is the state only interested in protecting one type of private information? Never mind; that’s a rhetorical question.
Becerra urges employers to talk to an attorney and read the law because “ignorance of the law does not allow you to escape punishment.” But apparently ignorance of the law is something his department has down pat, because they’re projecting they won’t be able to provide templates for employers on how to comply with the law until July, 2018, six months after it went into effect.
Also, I’d like know when a press conference will be held in which Becerra seeks to protect the privacy rights of law-abiding citizens? More importantly, when will his office be held accountable for disseminating the private information of thousands of law-abiding gun safety instructors? If privacy rights are so important, why would the AG’s office seek to gain the private information of people exercising their First Amendment rights and contributing to conservative causes?
Becerra then expressed some seriously misplaced compassion for illegal alien families having to live a life based on “swirling rumors.”
“You can’t live a life based on rumors, and for a lot of immigrants in California – just take – look at the DREAMers, they’ve had to figure out how to live their life based on rumors. DACA will be around, DACA will be gone. It’s really tough. You can imagine the stress that a lot of these families are under and the fear, the panic…”
Yes, those of us who have had to pay for overpriced health insurance policies that don’t cover diddly-squat and have spent a few years wondering about “rumors” of Obamacare repeal understand that!
Becerra’s not as great with off-the-cuff talking points, so he stammers a little, then:
“Do tomorrow what you were gonna do tomorrow. If you’re doing it right, if you’re obeying the laws of this state…then do what you’ve been doing. And — just make sure you’re doing it according to the laws…
Warning, warning, Xavier! They’re breaking laws already by being here, and you’re supposed to be reminding the people who want to enforce the federal law not to break your new law!
“…including our new laws, and know that California is doing all it can to provide everyone in this state with the types of protections of their rights and their privacy as we can.
Phew, he brought it back to obeying the NEW laws.
Knowing that he might face questions asking for details, he reiterated that he wasn’t going to give a lot of detail today (except as it applies to the dollar amounts of fines California employers could face):
“That actually will come later, because we are working on these guidance — issuing these guidances to local law enforcement and people in the state of California and on how these new laws will operate.
“Please understand what these new laws mean for you in terms of your rights AND your responsibilities.”
But you just told us that we don’t know all of that yet!
Either out of willful ignorance or complete stupidity about the effect of illegal immigration on crime, Becerra ended the press conference by saying the CA DOJ is “in the business of public safety; we’re not in the business of deportation.”