One of the mantras of the new president during his campaign, was that of mass deportations of illegal immigrants.
“There will be no amnesty,” he said in a campaign speech last September.
“Anyone who is in the United States illegally is subject to deportation,” he said.
Well, that was nothing new. Of course, anyone in the US illegally is always subject to deportation. But his hype has scared a lot of people – even more so, since his election.
Local lawmakers and law enforcement personnel say that, unless one is a violent criminal, things remain status quo.
“ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] has always been active in our communities, but I haven’t seen any increase in that,” said Congressman David Valadao (CA-21), whose district includes much of Kings County.
“Any direction of ICE is on the criminal side of it. I think the majority of our constituents would agree with that. There have been no raids, no roundups,” he added, having been in touch with Thomas Homan, acting director of ICE and John F. Kelly, director of Homeland Security.
Kings County Sheriff David Robinson concurs. Sheriff department dealings with ICE are for those in the jail system.
“There’s a lot of confusion,” Robinson said. “We do not go out with ICE and do street level enforcement.”
And, for example, if someone is pulled over for a traffic violation, officers will not ask citizenship or immigration status, he said.
But, if someone is arrested for a crime, fingerprinted and jailed, ICE will receive notification.
“It’s a public safety issue,” Robinson said. “We don’t want them back out on the streets. That’s been our practice since I started my career, 22 years ago.”
That being said, the Kings County jail will not hold an individual for ICE beyond the length deemed by the county. It is up to ICE to have officers present upon release of any individual in which it has an interest.
A February 1 ICE report revealed 19 individuals in Kings County custody that ICE wants to pick up, Robinson said. Three of those inmates are convicted murderers, one is held on vehicular manslaughter, two are held on child molestation, and two on sexual assault charges. Other inmates on the ICE list included one with domestic violence with assault with a deadly weapon charges, five for methamphetamine possession, one with marijuana for sale, one for repeated vehicle theft and lastly, one with 57 counts of animal cruelty.
Former Tulare County Supervisor Allen Ishida said, “They [ICE] have enough criminals to deal with.”
Ishida, who has filed paperwork to run for governor in 2018, said there are more than two million criminal felons in the country, illegally.
“The federal government doesn’t have time to direct their resources to any others [illegal immigrants],” he said.
Just What are Sanctuaries?
With the objective of keeping California residents “safe” from deportation, there is currently a bill, SB-54, a “sanctuary state” bill proposed. SB-54 would prohibit local police forces from helping federal authorities deport people who are in the US illegally.
Robinson said there is much to fear about the bill.
“SB-54 is very worrisome,” he said. “I don’t even know if it’s legal – a sanctuary city or state. Is it even defined? What does that even mean?”
California received $57 million last year to cooperate with ICE on felons, he said. Kings County received $70,000 of that – those federal funds would go away. So could other grant fund opportunities.
“Be careful what you wish for,” Robinson said.
“We don’t see ICE doing raids, but if the state won’t cooperate, the Feds could take those funds and infiltrate California, going door-to-door into the communities. The focus [of ICE] has been on criminals, I think that still needs to be the focus,” he said.
In recent news, Fresno Unified School District declared itself a Safe Place School District. According to the districts website, “The resolution reiterates the district’s commitment to serving all students, regardless of their immigration status. The resolution ‘declares that every Fresno Unified School District site is a safe place for its students and families to seek help, assistance and information if faced with fear and anxiety about any safety concern, including enforcement of immigration laws.’”
Valadao said there have long been sensitive, or safe, areas such as schools, churches and hospitals, protective of illegal immigrants. But, he agrees with Robinson with regard to the title of “sanctuary” cities, counties or states. There is a risk of losing a lot of grant funds, he said, at a state, county and city level.
Ishida also concurred, stating that locals, and the state, should not want to protect the prison population anyway.
California Secession? Not Likely
Meanwhile, there has been a movement within California to consider secession from the US. Signatures are being gather to put a proposition on the ballot.
While considering it blanery, Ishida said that in theory, California has already seceded.
“You can tell by the political bent being so blue,” he said.
California has more than 10% of the US population. But true secession would never succeed, Ishida said.
“It’s not going to pass the California voters,” he said. “We’d be nuts to do that.
“California has all most a trillion dollars in liabilities – California is in deep trouble [monetarily speaking]. And without the federal government, Medicaid would be out the door. That would hurt our population under the poverty line, and we have a substantial population under that line.”
Ishida said he appreciates California’s illegal immigrants.
“We’re darn lucky most of our illegal immigrants are from Mexico, because they make great citizens,” he said. “I don’t see them disrupting our government at all. They assimilate into the population, they already have in Tulare County.”
Sheriff Robinson said obtaining citizenship should be easier.
“The state and federal governments need to come up with a better legal path for citizenship,” he said. “It shouldn’t take 7-10 years.”