By Richard Rubin.
The sudden unleashing of an army of federal immigration agents on dozens of northern California businesses suspected of hiring illegal workers signals a new chapter in the federal government’s declaration of war against California.
Though no arrests have been made—at least not yet—these surprise raids are reminiscent of storm-trooper tactics in third world countries when governments crack down on opponents.
Workers across the state who have been quietly going about their business making a living in service establishments, construction trades, as cooks and housekeepers are being suddenly informed that their employers are breaking the law.
It is little secret that California is in the crosshairs of this Administration which takes a dim view of the favorable treatment the state has shown to undocumented workers who statistics show contribute in significant ways to the growth of its economy.
San Francisco which has declared itself a “sanctuary city” is first on the list of undesirables, which along with Sacramento were served 77 inspection notices in the past week.
Tom Homan, ICE’s acting director told Fox News in December, “We’ve got to take these sanctuary cities on. We’ve got to take them to court and we’ve got to start charging some of these politicians with crimes.”
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency known as ICE appears to have targeted California as enemy number one in the widening efforts to restrict the rights of undocumented immigrants nation-wide.
California is home to over 700,000 such individuals, many of them performing jobs others do not want, respecting the laws and paying taxes just like everyone else.
A large number are faced with deportation as of March if agreements cannot be reached in Congress and with the president over immigration reforms that have become a sensitive pawn in the negotiations over a government shut-down that was temporarily averted.
We are headed for another potential government showdown in just a few weeks where the fate of many law-abiding Californians hangs in the balance.
Both of California’s Democratic U.S. senators voted against a stopgap spending measure to keep the federal government open because it did not include protections for young immigrants—the so-called “dreamers” brought to the country illegally as children.
Some have questioned Feinstein’s stance since she is facing perhaps the toughest re-election battle of her long career against Senate President Pro-Tem, Kevin de-Leon, who stands in firm opposition to ending DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
However, the lack of enthusiasm for killing the program is very much a bi-partisan matter.
Six of the seven GOP members the California congressional delegation have exhorted the president to leave it in place, including notably Reps. Jeff Denham of Turlock and David Valadao of Hanford.
Both come from agricultural districts with large Latino populations and are facing stiff battles with Democrats in 2018.
This issue has now become entangled with the Administration’s blanket denunciation of the state’s immigration policies which Governor Brown and most of California’s legislators—both Republicans and Democrats—have defended.
Voters have also made it clear they favor more equitable treatment of the immigrant population whose growing numbers and political strength—especially among the Spanish-speaking segment—are making it a force that cannot be ignored.
If ICE agents begin taking harsher measures including arrests to enforce laws that are discriminatory in the eyes of many California lawmakers and the voters it is bound to lead to confrontations.
While President Trump may by now have written off California as sympathetic to his draconian pronouncements and actions, the state is ground zero for resistance movements of embattled citizens who see Trump as the one willing to break the laws.
The immigration issue is front and center in California but Texas and nine other states attorneys general threatened to go to court if Trump did not rescind the DACA program.
Trump has equivocated tossing the ball to Congress to decide while offering no coherent directions on how he would like to have the DACA stalemate resolved.
Rather than be seen as the obstructionists willing to let the government shut down, Democrats conceded to keeping it open in exchange for vague promises from the GOP leader merely to continue “negotiations” in what was a brilliantly-executed power play.
Meanwhile thousands of Californians joined protestors across the nation disgusted at what many view as abject surrender to Trumpian obfuscation, disingenuousness and outright racism as well as spineless Congressional leadership on both sides.
California has the most to lose if immigration reform fails and DACA is dismantled. It will be interesting to see how our congressional representatives react.