Citizenship matters. Throughout American history, tens of millions of immigrants have set out for our country seeking to become Americans.
By enacting Senate Bill 54 and declaring California a "sanctuary state," Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and liberal Sacramento politicians are draining citizenship of meaning and making a mockery of that history and those aspirations. They have taken a knee to the demands of identity politics — declaring illegal immigrants a protected class and ordering state and local law enforcement to provide them with special protection.
SB 54 exposes the massive disconnect between the radical priorities of the liberal political elites and the everyday concerns of average Californians. Californians want better schools, safer neighborhoods, less traffic, more affordable housing, and more jobs. The liberal politicians running the state and supporting SB 54 want to appease their radical base.
This is a public safety issue. There are an estimated 1-2 million criminal illegal immigrants in the United States. According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement data, undocumented immigrants are just 3.5 percent of the U.S. population but account for 37.6 percent of federal sentences and 13.6 percent of all criminal offenders nationwide. Illegal immigrants comprise 12 percent of murder sentences, 20 percent of kidnapping sentences, and 16 percent of drug trafficking sentences.
An estimated 650 unauthorized migrant criminal offenders are released into California's communities every month in violation of transfer requests into federal custody. During its last two-and-a-half years, the Obama Administration released 86,000 illegal immigrants who committed over 231,000 crimes.
Does protecting criminal illegal immigrants from deportation help working Californians or make our families and neighborhoods safer? Does it create or diminish economic opportunity? Does it make us more or less free?
Anyone who doubts the deadly consequences of sanctuary policies should talk to the family of Kate Steinle, murdered in 2015 by a criminal illegal immigrant who had been previously deported five times and had been let loose by San Francisco in defiance of a federal detainer request. Steinle would be alive today, if it weren't for San Francisco's sanctuary city ordinance.
Despite amendments to supposedly make it "safer," the truth is SB 54's only purpose is to provide shelter for undocumented immigrants who break laws such as those against domestic violence, drunk driving, assaulting police officers, illegal gang activity, and many, many more.
Unlike the radical Democrat elites, the ordinary, often forgotten people of California are not blind to the danger. Opposition to sanctuary policies is overwhelming and cuts across ethnic, racial, and partisan lines. According to a UC Berkeley poll, 74 percent of Californians oppose sanctuary cities – including super-majorities across every demographic and party affiliation. They see sanctuary policies like SB 54 for what they are: making California a "safe space" for criminal illegal immigrants.
Sanctuary state policies, by their very nature, are contrary to being a nation of laws. As a nation of laws, we cannot pick and choose which ones we'll obey. In principle, SB 54 is no different than Southern segregationist declarations of "massive resistance" to federal court orders to integrate public facilities.
Despite the rhetoric of its advocates, SB 54 will likely backfire. The Trump administration vows to go after federal funding for the state, and the Justice Department announced it will have to increase ICE raids in California because of its sanctuary state law.
SB 54 undermines respect for the law, endangers public safety, and is opposed by a broad cross-section of Californians. So, why do the liberal politicians running the California government so adamantly oppose the interests of the citizenry? Why are they willing to lose billions in federal funding and wreak havoc on state government finances to advance their identity politics? Why do they think pushing their radical political agenda is more important than serving the interests of the people they represent? The answer is painfully obvious: The liberal Democrat elites running this state are so totally disconnected from the everyday realities of ordinary Californians that they're incapable of understanding and representing their interests.
It's time for a change, which is why I have vowed to reverse this dangerous policy when I become the next governor of California.
Travis Allen, a Republican, represents California's 72nd Assembly District in the state legislature. He is a candidate for governor of California in 2018.
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