For California’s Illegal Immigrants, a Great Week


For California’s illegal immigrants, September is off to a rewarding start.

On September 4, in a shocking vote to undermine safety and to erode federal immigration law enforcement, the California Assembly passed AB 4, the so-called TRUST Act. AB 4 would prohibit state and local police from honoring U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers in all but the most extreme cases.

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An ICE detainer advises a state or local law enforcement agency that it seeks custody of a criminal alien for arrest and removal. However, when ordered by the state to ignore ICE detainers, local jails must release criminals back onto the street where they can continue their lives of crime. Aliens have already broken U.S. immigration laws and have no legal right to be in the country. As Melissa Melendez, a member of the assembly’s public safety commission argued, “I don’t want to turn California into one gigantic sanctuary city.”

If Governor Jerry Brown signs AB 4, California’s participation in Secure Communities would be severely restricted. Although the California Assembly and civil rights organizations consider Secure Communities a threat to family unity and error-prone, former ICE director and immigration advocate John Morton called it “the future of immigration enforcement” because it “focuses our resources on identifying and removing the most serious criminal offenders first and foremost.”

Last year, Brown vetoed AB 1081, similar legislation, and wrote that he could not support the bill because it would bar local cooperation even when the arrestee has been convicted of crimes involving child abuse, drug trafficking, illicit weapons resale, or gang involvement.

Then, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano rewrote AB 1081 to allow local authorities to hold aliens previously convicted of those crimes. Now, the still dangerous loophole-filled bill heads to Brown’s desk for his signature.

When it comes to subverting the law, California’s tenacious government never gives up. A few days after the Trust Act passed, the state senate approved AB 60 which will allow illegal immigrants to get California driver’s licenses.

Over the past two decades, former Assemblyman Gil Cedillo sponsored various forms of this measure. Governors Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed them all. Davis added that issuing driver’s licenses to aliens is an “invitation for fraud.” In what’s one of the most outrageous defenses of licenses for aliens, Brown said that the bill would allow: “millions of people to get to work safely and legally.” Illegal immigrants cannot legally be employed and should not be working with so many Americans unemployed.

As for the public’s well being, advocates promise that newly authorized immigrant drivers will get insurance. The evidence, however, belies the assumption. In New Mexico, which first granted licenses to aliens in 2003 with the same hope for enhanced on-road safety, is instead consistently one of the most under-insured states. According to the Insurance Research Council, New Mexico has twice the national average number of uninsured drivers.

Although California passes many of its subversive bills in the name of immigrant rights, they’re hurtful to Hispanic-Americans who respect and obey the law. The Trust Act guts Secure Communities which is intended to protect Americans. And giving aliens licenses encourages them to look for jobs that native-born Americans and legal immigrants should hold.

Liberalizing immigration laws may play well in the Hispanic lobby. But it has the unwanted effect of encouraging sane middle class Californians as well as small business owners to move out of state and take their tax dollars with them. California can’t afford middle class flight exacerbated by subsidizing illegal immigration.

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