By Doug Porter
Mayor Kevin Faulconer issued a memorandum on Wednesday, March 15, saying San Diego will not be participating a federal program deputizing local law enforcement officers to perform the duties of immigration authorities.
I learned about the memorandum, which came in response to an earlier letter from Councilmembers Chris Ward, David Alvarez, and Georgette Gomez, by way of social media from the 9th District councilman.
I get multiple press releases from the Mayor’s office daily, but somehow this one didn’t rate a mention. I’ve already been informed twice, for instance, hizzoner will be first in line on Thursday afternoon at Stone Brewing’s Liberty Station to taste “Full Circle Pale Ale, the first local craft beer brewed with advanced-treated recycled water from the city’s “Pure Water” facility.”
I’m guessing the mayor doesn’t want to ruffle any feathers in Washington. What this memo means is that San Diego will continue its current policies regarding immigration enforcement. It will only be a big deal if and when the Trump administration ever gets its Mean Machine rolling. Kudos to the ACLU and other local activists for making a fuss about this.
The Deportation Machine
Known as the 287(g) program, it takes its name from a section of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1996. In response to criticism about the program encouraging profiling and undermining police-community relations, the Obama administration scaled down participation.
An analysis by the Marshall Project indicates 175,000+ deportations were enabled between 2006 and 2013. It gave local law enforcement officers in participating communities power to stop, interrogate, and arrest anyone believed to be an unauthorized immigrant. Jail administrators were also deputized, allowing them access to immigration databases so they could refer arrestees to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for possible deportation.
As part of President Trump’s January 25 executive order, calling for an aggressive effort to deport undocumented immigrants in addition to the travel ban, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly issued memos to senior officials instructing them to “engage immediately with all willing and qualified law enforcement jurisdictions” to cooperate with the federal government under 287(g).
From Mother Jones:
“This is the deportation machine,” says Daniel Stageman, a researcher at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice who studies immigration and criminal justice. “If Trump is going to meet the kinds of numbers he announced during his campaign, this is how it will happen.” Chris Rickerd, a policy counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, puts it in stark terms: “There’s potential for this to be an enormous driver of people coming into the system through the task forces and people being processed in the jails. 175,000 is a staggering number of people to have gone through this, but that may be only a small fraction of what’s intended now.”
Walking a Tightrope
While the administration has threatened to pull federal funds from so-called sanctuary cities, the lack of a clear definition for the phrase in the short term combined with disorder in the executive branch makes it unlikely there will be any consequences in the near future for San Diego.
Both the San Diego Police Department and the County Sheriff’s office have policies in place that do not require automatic participation in immigration enforcement.
From the Union-Tribune:
[Sheriff Bill] Gore said, as he has in the past, that his department already cooperates extensively with federal immigration authorities in the county jails, through task forces and in other ways. That kind of cooperation has worked and will continue, he said.
“I don’t want my patrol deputies perceived in the community as immigration officers,” he said. “If we do that, if we turn this whole community into a subculture that is afraid to report crimes, we make this whole community less safe.”
San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman issued a statement noting her department’s cooperation with federal authorities. While not specifically addressing if the city would enter into a 287(g) agreement, she reiterated long-standing department policy that immigration enforcement is a federal matter after someone is arrested and jailed.
Some anti-immigration groups have labeled cities like San Diego as sanctuary cities, and given the Trump administration’s fondness for hardliners, it remains possible these local policies could lead to trouble in the future.
Researchers with pro-immigrant groups the Center for American Progress, National Immigration Law Center, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association calculated how much money sanctuary cities in 32 states received from five “key” federal grants…
…California stands to lose the most at $240 million, followed by $191 million for New York, and $91 million for Illinois. In total, the 32 states the report said could be targeted are at risk of losing $870 million.
This estimate assumes this funding hasn’t already been targeted for elimination in the 2018 budget…
The Make America Suck Budget
The Trump administration has issued its first estimate at what a federal budget for 2018 will look like, and plenty of folks have their hair on fire over its priorities.
It should come as no surprise that bombs, borders, and billionaires are winners, while science, social welfare, and students are among the many losers.
This New York Times overview lets us in on some of the gory details.
But here’s the thing: this proposal doesn’t mean squat. Last year Congress completely ignored President Obama’s budget proposal.
This is not to say the Randian Right isn’t gonna try and take an ax to everything except a military already spending more on than the next seven or so industrialized nations on so-called defense.
It’s okay to be outraged at the ideas put forward in the administration’s proposal. Just understand there is actually nothing substantive on the table. Yet.
Cost of security for Trump Tower: $183 million/year
Budget for National Endowment Arts/Humanities: $148 million/year
Let them eat diamonds. pic.twitter.com/Jux4NCW0UD
— Elliott Lusztig (@ezlusztig) March 16, 2017
Keep Those Phone Calls Coming
On a day when it could be easy to be discouraged, here’s a snip of something from the Washington Post to cheer you up from a congressional staffer:
It’s not even noon, and I’ve already answered dozens of phone calls from angry constituents. A single mother demanded answers as to where her family could turn for health-care services when Republicans repeal the Affordable Care Act. An older gentleman had to take a breath as he used some choice words to describe House Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s proposals that could cut Medicare benefits. The resentment and anger are palpable. Seconds after I hang up, the phone rings again. And again. And again.
As a communications director for Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), answering constituent calls is not usually in my job description; in most offices on Capitol Hill, staff assistants and interns pick up. But with phones ringing off the hook since Donald Trump became the 45th president, the policy experts and I have been pitching in — and all of us have been on the receiving end of a nonstop barrage of indignation and frustration from constituents, many of whom who have never been in touch before.
So I have something to say to the hordes of furious callers who continue to bombard our office on a daily basis: Thank you.
Reforming Local Politics
Also in the Department of Good News are announcements by local legislators portending changes in the San Diego political scene.
Assemblymembers Shirley Weber and Todd Gloria have introduced legislation aimed at reforming County of San Diego elections.
AB 801 and AB 901, co-authored by Assemblymembers Weber and Gloria, would revamp the County of San Diego’s redistricting commission and allow races for County Board of Supervisor to be decided in the General Election as opposed to the Primary.
Considering the way our board of supes has been voting lately –this week they banned medical marijuana in unincorporated areas– it’s obvious that change is needed. As Supervisor Greg Cox, who voted against the ordinance along with Ron Roberts, pointed out, the county may have just shot itself in the foot.
From the Union-Tribune:
One of the consequences of the ban, however, might be a countywide initiative that would overturn the ban but regulate cannabis dispensaries and farms. Cox and dispensary operators alike said that they expect that the cannabis industry to champion some sort of ballot measure.
“This is not going away, as we’ve all seen,” Ren Bowden, the co-owner of San Diego Relief, a dispensary in the pipeline that would have to close in five years under the ban. His plans for a cultivation center was scuttled by the board’s vote.
Bowden said he would not lead the ballot initiative himself, nor could he say what sort of provisions it would include. But he cautioned that it would greatly expand the number of cannabis facilities in the county and said it would be better for the supervisors to regulate the industry.
I would be remiss while handing out compliments to local legislators if I didn’t mention reform legislation aimed at the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG):
From the Times of San Diego:
The bill by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San Diego, would have the governing boards of SANDAG, the Metropolitan Transit System and North County Transit District provide proportional representation based on member city populations.
AB 805 would also require SANDAG, the regional planning agency comprised of local government leaders, to employ an independent auditor. The auditor would report to an Audit Committee made up of private citizens.
The bill comes on the heels of revelations that SANDAG staff discovered that its revenue projections for a tax hike proposition on last fall’s election ballot were faulty, but didn’t make any changes or report the error to board members.
As is true with President’s budget, it’s one thing to propose something. It’s another thing altogether to get it enacted.
Looking for some action? Check out the Weekly Progressive Calendar, published every Friday in this space, featuring Demonstrations, Rallies, Teach-ins, Meet Ups and other opportunities to get your activism on.
Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to “The Starting Line” and get an email every time a new article in this series is posted!
I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.Org Check us out on Facebook and Twitter.