Senate Floor Remarks — SB 54 (De Leon) The California Values Act

Monday, April 03, 2017

President Trump has vowed to punish so-called “sanctuary cities.” He claims sanctuary policies make cities more dangerous.

The President needs to read up. He is wrong about immigrants and wrong about what makes our communities safer. Recent research by a UC San Diego professor shows sanctuary counties are not only safer than comparable non-sanctuary jurisdictions but are also better off economically.

Instead of making us all safer, the Trump administration is spreading fear and promoting race-based scapegoating. Their gun-to-the-head method to force resistant cities and counties to participate in Trump’s inhumane and counterproductive mass-deportation is unconstitutional and will fail.

We have consulted with our counsel and are confident that there is a legal basis for our commitment to protecting fair treatment to Californians. We will not be - we legally cannot be - intimidated by an Administration determined to undermine the fundamental values that make our state and nation great. 

Facts matter – a concept that our President has yet to grasp.

His mass-deportation strategy is founded on the false and deceitful premise that undocumented residents are a lawless community. Census data from 1980 through 2010 show that the incarceration rates of native born males was anywhere from two to five times higher than that of immigrants. In counties that limit cooperation with ICE, there are on average 35.5 fewer crimes per 10,000 people in “sanctuary” counties while the median household income is nearly $4,500 higher.

The lynchpin to his plan is to have local police enforce immigration law.

Police chiefs across the nation believe that enlisting local police to enforce immigration law is a bad idea. Our communities will become more – not less – dangerous. Scarce local law enforcement resources will be squandered. Police officers will be called on to abandon their duties to arrest and detain otherwise law abiding maids, laborers, babysitters, restaurant workers – hardworking people who have helped make California the 6th largest economy in the world. Undocumented residents will quickly lose trust in local police. Crimes will go unreported for fear of deportation. Criminals will roam free to victimize others.

In a recent letter, our Chief Justice urged the Trump Administration to stop arresting immigrants at courthouses because of the chilling effect such a tactic has on the immigrant community.

Their reply makes it perfectly clear that the Trump Administration is not looking for cooperation. Their enforcement will be through intimidation and coercion.

Two weeks ago, the Department of Homeland Security started issuing a weekly report that aims to publicly shame law enforcement agencies that released people from custody despite an ICE detainer request. The US Attorney General took it a step further by promising to withhold federal funding from law enforcement departments that don’t do ICE’s bidding.

ICE has been and will continue to raid courthouses and our communities, not because lack of access to jails but because ICE refuses to comply with the 4th amendment.

Sheriffs and Police Chiefs across the country, including LAPD Chief Beck and Sheriff John McMahon, have urged ICE to simply follow standard law enforcement procedure and get a judicial warrants.

SB 54, the California Values Act, will prevent local and state law enforcement officers from being drafted by ICE to enforce immigration law.

However, SB 54 does not cut off cooperation with ICE, as the opposition purports. We will comply with judicial warrants. We will give federal authorities a 60-day notification prior to the release of violent AND serious felons from state prisons. And state and local law enforcement agencies will be able to respond to ICE notification request for serious and violent felons.

Contrary to President Trump’s assurances that he only wants to deport the “bad hombres,” folks that could hardly be described as dangerous are being detained and deported by ICE, creating fear and near panic in our undocumented communities.

The actions of the Trump administration have many of my constituents living in fear: mothers and fathers fear sending their children to school; victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and rape fear they’ll be arrested if they seek justice in a court of law; the very sick won’t seek medical treatment for fear they’ll be pulled from their hospital beds and deported. This is contrary to our values at a nation and those of our state

The backdrop to the crisis we are facing now is Congress’ failure to pass immigration reform. A pathway to citizenship – and not mass deportation – is the solution.

California has 3 million undocumented residents and their deportation would devastate our economy. One in ten workers in California is undocumented. They contribute more than $180 billion to our GDP. They pay more than $3 billion annually in state and local taxes.

Nationally, the implementation of a mass deportation would be a significant blow to the U.S. economy. The country’s GDP would shrink by 2.6 percent with annual losses of $434 billion. The cumulative loss to the national GDP over 10 years would be $4.7 trillion. Contributions to social security by undocumented immigrants for benefits they will never receive have kept the system afloat -- $100 billion over 10 years.

Californians already pay more in federal taxes than we get back in services.

Why should not have to squander our precious local law enforcement dollars to support a federal immigration program that will deport the very folks who keep our economy humming and, at the same time, make our communities less safe.