Since my previous opinion piece regarding SB-54 and California’s overall intent to limit municipality interaction with the federal government regarding immigration enforcement, the City of Santa Clarita placed on the agenda potential action against the Sanctuary State law. This topic continually motivates community members to expatiate their views, ranging from “send them all home” to “promoting dissension to sanctuary cities is racism.” Local resident Stacy Fortner posed an excellent question that I believe deserves an open and honest answer, “Will someone please explain to me what SB54 does to this community that is so bad?” Hopefully, my brief venture into answering Fortner demonstrates how adherence to the Sanctuary State legislation will lead to more federal immigration authorities in California and the further denigration of constitutional rights afforded to the people, all while destroying the families the legislature is purporting to protect.
It is well documented and judicially affirmed that the federal government maintains constitutional control to make and enforce immigration law. As I published previously, state and local governments may not be coerced into implementing or enforcing federal law. SB-54 takes this principle of anti-commandeering and the State Legislature’s apparent loathing of President Trump’s Americanism and sovereignty platforms, and uses their presumably constitutional actions under the Tenth Amendment to limit or prohibit state and local law enforcement cooperation with ICE. Going one-step further, the law also grants state and local law enforcement discretion to cooperate with federal immigration authorities even less than what the bill authorizes. Therefore, it may be lawful under SB-54 for a jurisdiction to refuse turning over any illegal immigrant to immigration authorities, even if convicted of heinous crimes such as slavery, human trafficking, child abuse, and rape (to name a few).
AB-450 is particularly heinous in its constitutional contemptuousness, as California legalized imposing significant civil penalties on private citizens who choose voluntary compliance with a federal immigration officer’s request for information when not presented with a judicial warrant. Aside from requiring private business owners to be forced protectors of information when engaging with federal authorities, California dismisses the people’s Fourth amendment rights and alters it into a mandate of federal obstructionism. We all have the right to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures, but with that comes the right to voluntarily give consent to waive constitutional protection if we so choose. Mandating prevention of federal agents entering your business is akin to mandating someone to speak. We should not forget that the right to free speech is also the right to say nothing at all, just as the right to be secure in our homes means the right to individually decide who may enter.
Perhaps the more odious response that comes from the Sanctuary City-related legislation is the legal, but all too often political, response instituted by the federal government. The efficacy of ICE in removing dangerous criminals coincides with solid and respectful relationships with local law enforcement. Being able to pick up illegal immigrants from jails and detention centers, where the environment is controlled and designed to keep safe both officers and detainees, allows ICE to limit their exposure to the community. Now under these laws, municipalities can, and sometimes must, choose not to aid federal officers in any fashion. Therefore, in order to perform their duties, the federal government has full authority to allocate more agents, build more facilities, and increase aggressive tactics to perform their constitutional duties. Instead of picking up just high-profile offenders at the local jail, agents will go into the communities, raid homes and shelters, and potentially even canvas schools with regularity. No longer will it just be the gang member or repeat offender picked up and deported, but their siblings, mothers and fathers, and grandparents as well. The very people our legislature swears these laws protect, will be tangled into the web of an unlawful individual’s recidivism, instead of being granted shelter made from a cohesive approach to illegal immigration enforcement by our federal and local agents.
SB-54 and the sanctuary state legislation has become a clarion call for both Conservatives and legal immigrants to speak out against illegal immigration, while becoming a beacon of “hope and inclusiveness” that liberal’s desire for all, no matter their immigration status. Nevertheless, any law that further divides branches of law enforcement, inhibits communication, and advances political posturing under the guise of morality, will forever negatively impact the lives of lawful citizens, legal immigrants, and those who have violated our federal immigration laws.
Jason Gibbs is a Santa Clarita resident.