The concept of sanctuary cities has worked out so well — just ask the family of Kate Steinle! — that leftists have decided that the time has come to extend the concept to the entire state of California. The Los Angeles Times reports:
California lawmakers on Saturday passed a “sanctuary state” bill to protect immigrants without legal residency in the U.S., part of a broader push by Democrats to counter expanded deportation orders under the Trump administration.
The legislation by Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), the most far-reaching of its kind in the country, would limit state and local law enforcement communication with federal immigration authorities, and prevent officers from questioning and holding people on immigration violations.
It does appear that the bill might not be as bad as the label “sanctuary state” would seem to suggest, however.
[T]he bill sent to Gov. Jerry Brown drastically scaled back the version first introduced, the result of tough negotiations between Brown and De León in the final weeks of the legislative session.
. . . .
Officially dubbed the “California Values Act,” the legislation initially would have prohibited state and local law enforcement agencies from using any resources to hold, question or share information about people with federal immigration agents, unless they had violent or serious criminal convictions.
After talks with Brown, amendments to the bill made this week would allow federal immigration authorities to keep working with state corrections officials and to continue entering county jails to question immigrants. The legislation would also permit police and sheriffs to share information and transfer people to immigration authorities if they have been convicted of one or more crimes from a list of 800 outlined in a previous law, the California Trust Act.
The amendments, if true, complicate the life of the blogger who wants to do a simple post saying: THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS! THE DAMNED LEFT WILL GET US ALL KILLED! The State of California may have dodged something of a bullet here. As you know if you have read me for any length of time, I’m not just going to take the word of the L.A. Times for anything. But I’ve looked at the language of the latest amendments, from September 11, 2017 (five days ago), and it does appear that Governor Brown significantly cut back on the most dangerous desires of Democrat senators.
Even with the recent amendments, I agree with the California State Sheriff’s Association that the bill as amended removes too much power from law enforcement to protect the public. The CSSA explains that the “bill does not allow for notification to federal authorities, at their request, of the pending release of certain wanted, undocumented criminals – including repeat drunken drivers, misdemeanor hit-and-run drivers and those who assault peace officers.”
The complaint of the California State Sheriff’s Assocation is accurate. The language of the latest amendments limits, to certain specified situations, the ability of law enforcement to 1) “provid[e] release dates . . . in response to a notification request from immigration authorities” and 2) transfer a person to immigration authorities. For cases where someone is held in jail for “[d]riving under the influence of alcohol or drugs” such notifications or transfers can occur “only for a conviction that is a felony.” Thus, ICE will not be notified of the release date of illegal immigrants who are repeat drunk drivers unless they are convicted of a felony. And in California, DUI defendants can be charged with misdemeanors until their fourth offense.
This is a real problem, because repeat drunk drivers cause a lot of deaths. In May 2007, I began a series called Deport the Criminals First which highlighted specific cases where illegal immigrants had come into contact with law enforcement before committing crimes of violence, but had not been deported. The victims I discussed were true casualties of our country’s immigration failures — because a working system of deportation would have saved their lives. And out of dozens and dozens of posts I wrote over the years about people victimized and killed by illegal immigrants, many of those people had been killed by illegal immigrants who were repeat drunk drivers.
I encourage anyone who might be in favor of a “sanctuary state” law to examine my “Deport the Criminals First” series of posts. Josef Stalin reportedly said: “If only one man dies of hunger, that is a tragedy. If millions die, that’s only statistics.” So I made sure each victim’s name was mentioned, and tried to find a picture of them if possible. Showing the actual victims of these crimes, I believed, was important, so that these deaths were not ignored as “statistics.” Instead, I hoped, each death could be viewed as the individual tragedy that it truly was.
The last such post I wrote was on July 4, 2015, and was about the murder of Kate Steinle in San Francisco. I laid out in detail how Steinle (who bore an eerie resemblance to my youngest sister) was the victim of San Francisco’s “sanctuary city” policy, as well as the incompetence of ICE in releasing the illegal to a known sanctuary city.
One Donald J. Trump took up the Steinle case and made it a cause célèbre of sorts, for which I believe he deserves credit. I never consciously thought about ending the series, but now that I think about it, I believe that Trump’s championing of Steinle’s case essentially meant that, as they say, “my work here was done.”
But Kate Steinle is not the only person who has died as a result of our dysfunctional immigration system. And if we adopt irresponsible “sanctuary city” and even “sanctuary state” policies as a matter of course, there will be more Kate Steinles.
As I say, we here in California may have dodged a bullet here. But the new law will probably cause people to be hurt or killed, though nowhere near as many as the original proposal. We must be vigilant, or more people will die.