On Saturday, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Trust Act. It prohibits illegal aliens from being turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) authorities for possible deportation unless they have been charged with or convicted of a serious offense. “While Washington waffles on immigration, California’s forging ahead,” Brown said. “I’m not waiting.”
California is indeed forging ahead. Last Thursday, Brown signed a bill allowing illegal aliens to obtain drivers’ licenses. “Millions of immigrant families have been looking forward to this day,” said Democratic Assemblyman Luis Alejo, who sponsored the bill. “It will allow them to go to work, go to school, take their kids to a doctor’s appointment without fear that they are going to have their car taken away from them, or worse, be put into immigration proceedings.”
Not “immigrant families.” Illegal immigrant families.
Brown was even busier on Saturday. In addition to the Trust Act, he signed another seven bills aimed at blurring, if not eradicating the distinction between law-abiding legal immigrants and their illegal counterparts. The measures included imposing restrictions on those who charge fees to help illegals gain legal status–and the ability to criminally charge employers who threaten to report an individual’s immigration status, if that threat is used to “induce fear.” Given that it is against the law to hire illegals, Brown and his fellow Democrats have essentially given illegals the power to threaten their employers.
Even more remarkably, Brown also signed a bill that permits the California Supreme Court to grant law licenses to illegal aliens.
Illegal-alien rights activists were ecstatic. “Today marks the dawn of a new era in California’s immigrant communities,” said Reshma Shamasunder, director of the California Immigrant Policy Center. Her organization declared 2013 the “year of the immigrant” in California.
Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) who sponsored the Trust Act, rationalized its passage in a September press release. “Federal officials have held people whose worst alleged violation was selling tamales without a permit or having a barking dog,” he explained. “Even crime victims have been deported. We need to end that to bring back trust between our communities and the local law enforcement agencies supposed to protect them.”
That press release was a window into the mindset of the activist American left, for whom the rule of law its little more than an inconvenient impediment that can be ignored in pursuit of “nobler” ambitions. It further noted that the Trust Act was crafted to defy a federal immigration program known as Secure Communities, or S-Comm. The release bemoaned the fact that more the 50,000 “contributing Californians” had been deported “though they had not been convicted of any crime, or only minor crimes.” In other words, being in the country illegally is completely irrelevant.
For many California jurisdictions, federal immigration law has been irrelevant for quite some time. Santa Clara, San Francisco and Los Angeles counties have already embraced the provisions of the Trust Act. In December 2012, LA County Sheriff Lee Baca announced he would no longer honor federal immigration law. His actions, along with those of the aforementioned counties, were based on a legal directive issued the same month by California Attorney General Kamala Harris. Harris contended that local law enforcement communities were not obligated to comply with S-Comm.
ICE released a statement in reaction to Harris’s ruling. “The federal government alone sets these priorities and places detainers on individuals arrested on criminal charges to ensure that dangerous criminal aliens and other priority individuals are not released from prisons and jails into our communities,” it said.
The federal government’s priorities are tellingly selective. When the state of Arizona passed SB 1070, a law that allowed law enforcement officials to inquire about proof of residence from those detained for other legitimate reasons, Eric Holder’s Department of Justice (DOJ) sued the state. The DOJ won a partial victory when the Supreme Court ruled that asking people to produce proof they are in the country legally if they have been stopped for another legitimate reason is constitutional, but Justice Anthony Kennedy determined that immigration law per se — including the decision not to enforce the law — remains exclusively under federal jurisdiction.
The likelihood that the DOJ will file a similar lawsuit against California for its decision to openly defy federal immigration law? Zero.
In a temporary burst of sanity, Gov. Brown did veto one bill sponsored by Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont). AB 1401 would have allowed lawful permanent residents who are not citizens to serve on juries. Brown decided that jury duty, like voting, should be reserved exclusively for Americans. Wieckowski was disappointed. “It is fair and just that they be asked to share in the obligation to do jury duty, just as they serve in our courts, schools, police departments and armed forces,” Wieckowski said.
On the other hand, nothing is forever. Last year Brown vetoed an earlier version of the Trust Act, contending it allowed those convicted of serious crimes to slip through the cracks. Brown changed his mind after the legislature added crimes such as child abuse, gang-related crime, drug trafficking, weapon sales, using children to sell drugs and aggravated federal felonies to the list of offenses that would trigger a hold of an illegal for ICE. In other words, state legislators had previously tried to pass the law absent those categories. One imagines it’s only a matter of time before a “tweak” of Wieckowski’s bill will have Brown changing his mind once again.
Kristin Williamson of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group that tries to reduce both legal and illegal immigration, wasn’t on board with Brown’s efforts to defy federal law. “Californians, regardless of their immigration status, are now left unprotected from deportable criminal aliens, and ICE agents will be forced into unnecessarily dangerous situations trying to track down illegal aliens who were already safely in the custody of state and local law enforcement,” she said.
That’s assuming ICE has the impetus to do so. It is no secret that the Obama administration has set the standard for selective law enforcement, highlighted by the president’s unilateral decision to establish the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) by executive order. The DREAM Act-like program provides de facto amnesty for thousands of illegal aliens ostensibly younger than 30 who arrived in United States before age 16, and have lived here for at least five years continuously.
The word “ostensibly” is critical. A Freedom of Information Act request filed by Judicial Watch procured documents revealing that comprehensive background checks will be replaced by “lean and lite” checks aimed at accommodating the flood of amnesty applications enabled by the president. Those documents also reveal that immediate relatives of DACA applicants could be approved for amnesty, a concept known as “chain migration.” Chain migration substantially increases the number of illegal aliens who can sidestep immigration law.
And while the nation remains distracted by the government shutdown and the debt ceiling, five separate immigration-related bills are surreptitiously working their way through the Republican-controlled House, only one of which addresses border security. Moroever, a consortium of business leaders, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, are pressuring House Republicans from Southern states to enact comprehensive immigration reform. Furthermore, the same national park the Obama administration made off-limts to WWII veterans only a week ago, was opened up for immigration advocates, who held a rally and concert there yesterday.
One of the historical hallmarks of tyrannical regimes is selective law enforcement. In California, leftist Gov. Jerry Brown has signed bills into law that have enshrined selective enforcement with regard to illegal aliens, violating federal immigration law in the process. His equally leftist Attorney General Kamala Harris has also decided the state will do whatever it wishes in terms of complying with federal law. Both of them do so with the utmost confidence that a compromised DOJ run by a corrupt Attorney General is more than willing look the other way. Eric Holder is confident he can look the other way because he has a “kindred soul” in President Obama, who unilaterally and unconstitutionally granted de facto amnesty to millions of illegal aliens, bypassing Congress in the process–even as that same Congress currently plots behind closed doors to reward millions of law-breakers in return for cheap votes and cheap labor.
This is where America stands in 2013. If left unchecked, one of the great ironies of all time may eventually be realized: millions of illegal aliens who have come to America to escape a Third World ethos, where the rule of law is supplanted by the rule of man, may discover, for all intents and purposes, they are right back where they started.
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