By Doug Porter
Dangerous felons (with brown skin, no doubt) will soon be allowed to prowl the streets of California cities and towns, according to a newly organized group of elected officials pushing back against Senate Bill 54, the California Values Act.
El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells, leader of Mayors for Safe Cities says “SB 54 forces cities to shield violent serious felons — rapists and child molesters — who have served their sentence, are out on bond, or who are out on bail from federal immigration authorities.”
The website for this group highlights date rape, vehicular manslaughter, participation in criminal street gangs, shooting at an occupied car or home, burglary, assault with a deadly weapon as likely crimes to be encouraged by this bill.
Pretty scary stuff, huh?
What It Is
SB 54 sets limits on cooperation between local police and federal immigration authorities and is a response to the Trump administration’s draconian enforcement posture.
State prisons and county jails, under the terms of SB 54, are required to notify the FBI 60 days before releasing an immigrant without legal status who has been convicted of a violent felony. It does not prevent immigration authorities from carrying out deportation raids.
Along the way, the bill has been branded as making California a ‘Sanctuary State.’ That’s been enough to rally conservative law enforcement and political entities willing to buy into the immigrants as violent felons (and coming for your property) school of thought.
The legislation is seen as definitely waving a middle finger at the current president’s policies.
From the Mercury News:
Senate Bill 54 is perhaps the Legislature’s highest-profile act of defiance against the Trump administration, which is seeking to enlist the help of local police to carry out its promised crackdown on illegal immigration. The proposal would prohibit local and state agencies from using state resources to communicate with federal agents, with a few exceptions — such as task forces involving federal and local agencies.
“It’s not a matter of ideology. It’s a matter of common sense,” said the bill’s author, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León. “Our communities will become more and not less dangerous when local police officers are pulled from their duties to pull otherwise law-abiding maids, bus boys, gardeners and day laborers for immigration violations.”
U.S. immigration policy has long been based on fear, as an excellent article written by Brook Binkowski at Snopes documents.
Be Very Afraid of Those Reckless State Lawmakers
Yesterday, local reactionary politicians held a press conference, hoping to gin up the fear being marketed by the Trump administration.
Here’s snip from their press release:
Calling it “a dangerous anti-public safety bill,” El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells and ‘Mayors for Safe Cities’ will stand in opposition to SB 54 (De Leon) tomorrow, legislation that would prevent state and local law enforcement agencies from notifying federal immigration authorities of “dangerous criminals being released from incarceration.”
“This misguided effort blocks all common sense cooperation with federal immigration officials and will surely mean that dangerous criminals will be returned to our cities and neighborhoods,” Wells said. “With a California beset by crime, gang violence and sex trafficking, mayors simply cannot afford to be as reckless with public safety as state lawmakers.”
El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells called a press conference to announce the formation of the group, “Mayors for Safe Cities.” Members oppose SB 54, or the California Values Act, which is currently in the state legislature…
…Among the other elected officials at the press conference were Escondido Mayor Sam Abed, Poway Mayor Steve Vaus and San Marcos Mayor Jim Desmond. San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who is currently in Mexico City advocating for closer cross-border cooperation, has rejected the label of “sanctuary city” for San Diego, but supports some policies associated with the sanctuary city movement.
A group of protesters showed up at the press conference, which was held at the El Cajon Police Department headquarters, holding up signs reading “No Hate, No Fear” and “Immigrants Welcome.”
There are numerous studies debunking the ‘immigrants equal more crime’ assumption widely held on the right. That hasn’t stopped reactionaries from using these unfounded fears as an organizing tool.
Cities throughout the region attempting to differentiate themselves from the administration’s policies by passing resolutions declaring themselves to be ‘Welcoming Cities’ have found themselves under attack from angry citizens fearful of waves of terrorist roaming the streets.
Here’s a snip saying crime may actually be lower in sanctuary areas from a much larger article at FactCheck.Org:
In research published by the left-leaning Center for American Progress in January, Tom K. Wong, a professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego, looked at the issue on a county basis, rather than by city, and concluded, “Crime is statistically significantly lower in sanctuary counties compared to nonsanctuary counties.”
Wong argues the findings confirm what many law enforcement officials have said for decades. “Assisting in federal immigration enforcement efforts can drive a wedge between local law enforcement officials and the communities they serve, which undermines public safety,” he said.
Indeed, in a statement expressing concern with Trump’s executive order, the U.S. Conference of Mayors argued that sanctuary policies can reduce crime.
Governor Jerry Brown has yet to indicate whether he intends to sign the SB 54 into law.
More ‘Winning:’ International Tourism Declines
Overseas visitors to the United States are declining, according to tourism experts. The falloff is being called the “Trump slump,” as a reaction to the administration’s policies on immigration and the spread of horror stories about border encounters with federal authorities.
Given that 10% of San Diego’s visitors are from countries outside the US, this will impact the 180,000+ people employed in local tourism-dependent industries. The region saw 39.4 million visitors in 2016, who spent $10.4 billion at San Diego businesses, and generated $267 million in transient occupancy tax revenues.
The international firm Tourism Economics believes the number of foreign travelers could drop by 6.3 million annually due to Trump rhetoric and policies, a decrease of 8.2% compared to 2016. According to a story published at CNN/Time, this decline could mean a potential loss of $27 billion to $31.5 billion annually. Other sources put the decline in tourism dollars in the $11 billion range.
So Trump’s xenophobia is costing businesses a big chunk of change, as noted in this article from the Union-Tribune:
…The Global Business Travel Association recently polled its U.S. and European members to gauge the impact of Trump’s travel ban. In Europe, nearly half of travel professionals said they expected their companies to reduce business travel over the next three months, while 31 percent of the U.S. respondents expect a similar slowdown.
There’s Always Russia…
Kali Holloway at Alternet wrote perhaps the gloomiest of the doom and gloom articles about international tourism making the rounds:
“The U.S. is in danger of taking the same path it took after September 11, which led to a decade of economic stagnation in the travel and tourism sector,” David Scowsill, CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council, told the Globe. “Strict visa policies and inward-looking sentiment led to a $600 billion loss in tourism revenues in the decade post-9/11.”
Trump and his followers will definitely find a way to blame President Obama if the tourism decline persists, but in reality, under the previous administration foreign visits went way up. Bloomberg cites data from U.S. Travel indicating that from 2006 to 2015, “America saw international visitors rise, with arrivals increasing from 51 million in 2006 to nearly 78 million in 2015.”
Perhaps under Trump, Russia can fill the growing gap and make up the difference. Flight app Hopper found Russia is an exception to the rule, with U.S. flight search queries recently increasing 88 percent, per the Guardian.
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.
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