California Leaders Must Ignore Pro-Trump Sheriffs in Order to Defend Immigrants

Editor’s note: We now bring you a new column penned by members of Orange County Immigrant Youth United, a longtime non-profit that has fought the good fight for years not just for undocumented folks, but against civic, police, and sheriff corruption, transphobia, and all sorts of other OC nastiness. Every week, they’ll bring us their perspectives on issues local and national—enjoy!

By Faby Jacome

State Senator Kevin de Leon introduced Senate Bill 54, otherwise known as the California Values Act, earlier this year as part of an effort to stand up to the Trump Regime and the danger it poses to immigrant communities across California. The California Values Act made it past the State Senate this month and now awaits a vote in the Assembly.

As it stands, SB 54 would limit any further collaboration between local law enforcement agencies and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The bill states that law enforcement agencies, including campus police, can’t use “resources to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect, or arrest persons for immigration purposes.” Even though California is one of the most progressive states in the country, those of us who call Orange County home have to contend with Sheriff Sandra Hutchens and her Orange County Sheriff’s Department, one of the most anti-immigrant law enforcement agencies in the state.

In keeping with Hutchens’ long history of opposing even the most minimal of protections for immigrants, she’s engaging in a lobbying campaign with the California Sheriffs’ Association against the bill. It already pushed Senator de Leon to amend SB 54 in a way that it entrenches the worse excesses of our racist criminal justice system. But still, that wasn’t enough for Sheriff Sandy and her ilk, creating concerns among advocates that further amendments watering down the bill’s protections are in the works to appease Ppro-Trump sheriffs.

Hutchens and the California Sheriffs’ Association have given no sign that changes to the California Values Act will win their support or modify their opposition. To the contrary! Following the election, Hutchens along with other California sheriffs met with Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to discuss closer collaboration on immigration enforcement. Hutchens went so far as to ask Sessions for a legal directive that would allow her to resume the use of immigration detainers which allowed jails to hold immigrants for ICE past their time of release—and that were found unconstitutional in 2014.

When our sheriffs have such a cozy relationship with Trump and gush over his immigration priorities to the point of asking the administration for more tools to detain and deport our community, any negotiations they have with state leaders around pro-immigrant legislation is done in bad faith. As the SB 54 heads to the Assembly, legislators must recognize this and cease all efforts to weaken the California Values Act to placate Trump-lovin’ law enforcement officials.

This is our time to stand up not only to the Trump administration but to the mini-Trumps in our community. This is the time to fight for California’s values!

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