A Clockwork Orange: Of Immigrants, Builder Buddies, Rescue Dogs and Green-Eyed Girls

4Life Animal Rescue’s Bark Fest fundraising event Nov. 12 in the back lot of Pet Hospital in Orange raised enough money to cover medical needs for current and future rescue animals, including the $900 in surgery costs for Diego, an American Bully who recently underwent a mass cell tumor removal.

But the highlight of one of the largest events 4Life has ever presented had to be good “bad” boy McCoy winning the costume contest. Decked out in a mullet and jean jacket, the basset hound waltzed down the red carpet as a boom box blasted rock music—thus taking “You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog” to a whole new level.

Last December, Santa Ana became the first city in the county to adopt a sanctuary ordinance protecting the undocumented, and then a program to house federal deportation detainees at Santa Ana Jail was phased out. The City Council went on to discuss how to ensure those who cannot afford to hire lawyers can obtain legal representation during the deportation process. There were no programs in the county to fund such a thing, so the council in February directed city staff to look into worthy initiatives.

On the East Coast, the Vera Institute of Justice had found so much success providing public defenders for the undocumented in New York City—where successful outcomes for such immigrants shot up from 4 percent to 48 percent—that a push was made to take the program nationwide. When Santa Ana’s city staff investigated legal service providers, the Vera Institute was identified, documentation was supplied to the nonprofit over the summer, and, as part of the selection process, the City Council agreed to set aside $65,000 as seed money for a local program. (Among the 53 comments the Orange County Register received about that were: “This is nothing but a defense fund for criminals. No taxpayer money should be used for this,” “Advocacy lawyers and liberal journalists are only slightly better than child rapists and murderers,” and “Can we just build a practice wall around Santa Ana, please?”)

The culmination came Nov. 9 in Columbus, Ohio, with the launch of the Vera Institute of Justice’s Safety and Fairness for Everyone (SAFE) Cities Network, which includes Columbus; Santa Ana; Sacramento; Oakland/Alameda County; Atlanta; Baltimore; Chicago; Dane County, Wisconsin; Prince George’s County, Maryland; and Austin and San Antonio, Texas.

“The city of Santa Ana has emerged as a regional and national leader in local efforts to protect undocumented immigrants,” says Councilman Vicente Sarmiento in a city statement. “Our partnership with Vera and the SAFE Cities Network will enable Santa Ana to continue supporting our community by ensuring due process for detained immigrants in court proceedings.”

Councilman Sal Tinajero echoed those sentiments, while Mayor Pro Tem Michele Martinez and Councilman David Benavides said it all comes down to public safety. As Benavides put it, “Our community is safest when our neighbors trust their government officials and institutions and know they will be treated justly and with respect and dignity. It is up to us to minimize that disruption by finding efficient, effective and humane solutions to ensure detained immigrants receive the support they need.”

Not quoted were Mayor Miguel Pulido, who was absent when the council voted 4-2 to provide the seed money, and dissenting councilmen Juan Villegas and Jose Solorio, who worried about the program’s impact on the general fund. For the city’s scratch and a $100,000 Vera catalyst grant, Santa Ana gets trained legal service providers to represent immigrants facing deportation proceedings, technical expertise and support, insight on best practices gleaned from other jurisdictions, and analyses of collected data to gauge the network’s impact.

Home builders and construction trade workers often find themselves at odds over labor issues, but both sides came together for a high-noon demonstration Nov. 15 during the 2017 Building Industry Show at the Orange County Fair & Event Center. Their goal: to urge Congress to protect middle-income home ownership by saving the current Mortgage Interest Deduction.

“The House tax-reform plan abandons middle-income Americans by eviscerating existing home-ownership tax credits that make the American Dream attainable for millions of Americans,” explains Peter Vanek, a residential builder and president of the Building Industry Association of Southern California, who joined other construction-company owners, laborers and Building Industry Technical Academy students at the protest.

Currently, homeowners can deduct all their mortgage interest from taxes if their mortgage amount is $1 million or less. The House tax-reform bill would lower the cap to $500,000. In California, the median home price is $533,000, so more than half of the state’s homeowners would no longer be able to deduct the full amount of their mortgage interest from their federal taxes. Also keep in mind that the median home price exceeds $700,000 in Orange County, so even more of us here would be screwed.

“We are demonstrating,” Vanek says, “to urge Congress to keep the tax incentives that support home ownership in place because the proposals currently in the House tax-reform bill would be devastating—particularly to Southern California.”

The gremlins who write headlines on our Film section’s Special Screenings column routinely pull from lines of dialogue in the listed movies. For Nov. 3’s “Looking for a Girl With Green Eyes,” the honor went to Big Trouble in Little China, whose plot involves two female characters with green eyes. And so, into the inbox came . . .

Re: Green Eyes article
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Message: Hi, we saw your recent article on Green Eyes and thought you might find our site interesting. —the Team at the Green Eyes Project, www.greeneyesproject.com.

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