California Governor Jerry Brown has recently signed legislation called the California Values Act, which forbids California police from questioning people about their immigration status, arresting illegal immigrants, or cooperating with federal immigration enforcement via ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). It is a massive expansion of California’s sanctuary state status, which was intended to ensure that illegal immigrants would not be afraid of reporting crimes to the police for fear of deportation.
The act has set up a major showdown with the federal government, and threats of raids in northern California. When the Oakland Police department cooperated with ICE on a raid recently, it faced a major public backlash. Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan argued, “It is not acceptable for the Oakland administration to collude with ICE, as this federal agency is targeting noncriminals, harassing people based on their national origin and undermining our justice system.”
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However, the Councilwoman’s remarks demonstrably ring hollow, and they are little more than a ploy to appeal to the far-left voters in the Bay Area. ICE is not targeting noncriminals: indeed, every individual caught up in an ICE raid has indeed broken the law by being in the United States illegally. Borders are real, nations are sovereign and free to make their own laws, and immigration law is just as valid as any other part of the legal code. It is fundamentally dishonest, and laughable actually, for Kaplan to suggest that these raids are targeting innocent people.
ICE is not harassing people based on their national origin; it does not matter to ICE if the illegal immigrants in question are from East Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, Central America, or South America.
The people of the United States have spoken in electing Donald Trump; a president who pledged to enforce our nations’ immigration laws. ICE is not singling any geographic, ethnic, or national group out over any others. The message that the Trump administration is now sending to illegal immigrants in the United States is that if they break the law, there will be consequences.
Finally, for Kaplan to suggest that for ICE agents to merely do their job constitutes “undermining our justice system” is ludicrous. The entire mandate of the agency is to apprehend people and goods that have entered the country illegally. Just because the city of Oakland claims that it is “not illegal to be illegal in California” does not invalidate federal immigration law.
ICE Director Thomas Homan had strong words for the city of Oakland, deeming it “unconscionable” and suggesting it “poses dangers for local communities…I am saddened by the Oakland City Council’s obvious lack of concern for law enforcement officers’ well-being and their careless disregard for their own responsibility to protect public safety.”
Meanwhile, Calfornia’s tandem of Senators released a statement suggesting that, “Rather than focusing efforts on violent criminals, raids carried out in neighborhoods and workplaces could result in the deportation of individuals who are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
They seem a bit more sensible, at least acknowledging that the agency does have a mandate to detain and deport violent criminals.
The feared massive raids in northern California have yet to materialize, but when they do, it would be interesting for investigative journalists to research the exact breakdown of the reasons for targeting the individuals in question: it seems likely that the vast majority will have serious criminal histories.
According to San Francisco Gate, the operation is intended to apprehend “people who have been identified as targets for deportation, including those who have been served with final deportation orders and those with criminal histories,” but if ICE does find other illegal immigrants in the course of the raids, they will make collateral arrests as well.
Immigration is a debate that has split the nation, and the libertarian movement as well. Many libertarians believe in considerably loosening or immigration restrictions in order to allow for a more flexible labor market. They cite the booming demand for agricultural and retail workers in California as a rationale.
In my mind, this is further proof that we have urgent need for a guest worker program: a program that will provide employers with a cost-effective, efficient, and quick way to hire workers from Mexico and Central America.
I think that Trump should propose something called the “Trump Rule.”
The Trump Rule would state that for every illegal immigrant deported from the United States, one guest worker visa would be approved. Such a guest worker program would not offer a green card, or a path to citizenship, but would match employers and employees in a federal database, and offer guest worker visas, renewable every two years, at a low cost: say $300. Obviously, the employee in question would have to pass a criminal background check. But such a program could be implemented in a matter of months, and a potential worker could have a two year approved contract in a matter of weeks.
So, my question to the lefty politicians in California: Instead of complaining about ICE enforcing the law, why are you not demanding a guest worker program?