Lawful Texas, Lawless California
The two states' immigration policies just about couldn't be more different.
With regard to illegal immigration, Texas and California epitomize the divide currently afflicting the nation. It is a divide that pits those who believe in the Rule of Law against those who believe their “superior” wisdom entitles them to ignore it completely.
Texas means business. On Feb. 8, the GOP-controlled state Senate voted 20-10 to strip funding from local and state entities that refuse to enforce immigration laws, the most troubling aspect of which is the failure to honor detainers from Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) officials seeking to deport illegal aliens. While it seeks to strip funding from entities that don’t comply, the real teeth in the bill is the possibility that entities refusing to comply could also be subject to civil fines — and department heads could be subject to criminal prosecution.
Because Gov. Greg Abbott listed this bill as one of his emergency items, lawmakers were able to vote on it without the traditional 60-day waiting period to hear bills on the floor of either the Texas Senate or House. The House began debating the measure in March and their efforts in that chamber are mixed. On one hand, they want to make inquiring about the status of a possible illegal allowable only if that person is arrested. The Senate version is broader, applying to those are arrested or detained. On the other hand, the House added police chiefs to the list of supervisory personnel who could be charged with a class A misdemeanor, precipitating the potential of being removed from office for violating the provision of the bill. Only constables and sheriffs were included in an earlier version of the proposed legislation.
Retaining the latter part of that legislation is critical. Much like their progressive counterparts in other areas of the country, some Texas law enforcement officials are making the shop-worn assertion that cooperation by illegal aliens is necessary to solve crimes.
Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez is the poster girl for such officials. She made it clear she is a law unto herself when she made denying ICE requests her official policy. Despite forfeiting state law enforcement grants totaling $1.5 million this year, Fernandez released 39 criminal aliens in the first two days her policy went into effect. Some of the detainees released on bail in defiance of ICE retainers include three felons. Ramiro Espinoza Marquez, 24, was charged with injuring a 14-year old boy. Gilmar Darosa, 37, sexually assaulted a young woman so distraught by the experience she tried to harm herself, according to court paperwork filed by Austin police. And the victim of the alleged sexual assault perpetrated by 31-year-old Hugo Gallardo-Gonzalez was nine when the molesting began.
A statement released in January reveals exactly where Hernandez stands. “I respect the job of our state leaders, but I will not allow fear and misinformation to be my guiding principles as a leader sworn to protect this community,” it said. “I am following all state and federal laws, and upholding constitutional rights to due process for all in our criminal justice system. Our community is safer when people can report crimes without fear of deportation. I trust the court system and our judges to assess the risks and set appropriate bonds and conditions for all who are incarcerated. The voters, who elected state leaders and me, expect and deserve a collaborative effort to come up with solutions to this very complex issue. That is precisely what I’m committed to.”
There’s no “complexity,” Ms. Hernandez. Title 8, Section 1373 of the U.S. Code clearly states “a Federal, State, or local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.”
Gov. Abbott has made his intentions clear. “Let me tell you something,” he said. “If a sheriff refuses to enforce the laws … they need to quit their job. If they don’t want to enforce the law, they should not be in law enforcement.” He further insisted that if the pending legislation is passed, “these sheriffs could wind up behind the very bars they are releasing these criminals from.”
Abbott also directed a salvo at the American Left: “America is a nation based upon the Rule of Law and these liberals who are abandoning the Rule of Law are compromising the safety and well-being of our fellow Americans and Texas and the Trump administration are not going to tolerate it.”
California? This week the Democrat-dominated state Senate passed SB54, a law aimed at making California a sanctuary state. Among its restrictions, it prevents local and state police agencies from collecting information about a person’s immigration status or holding a person for ICE unless a judicial warrant is issued. Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, who introduced the measure, called it “a rejection of President Trump’s false and cynical portrayal of undocumented residents as a lawless community.”
A rejection of the Rule of Law is more like it.
Under pressure from law enforcement officials the bill was amended to allow state and local law enforcement to notify ICE before convicted or violent felons are released from custody. But as Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Riverside County, argued, crimes like human trafficking, child abuse and assault with a deadly weapon remain exempt from the amendment. “How many more Kate Steinles do we need?” he asked.
The answer to that question is simple: as many murdered Americans as leftists deem a “reasonable” tradeoff for maintaining their commitment to the utter lawlessness sanctuary cities epitomize.
“This bill makes clear that California will not become an arm of ICE,” declared Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco. “That we will not allow our employees, our law enforcement from becoming de facto immigration officers.”
In contrast to Texas, de León ultimately stripped the bill of its emergency status that would have required a two-thirds vote of approval by both chambers to pass. That will make it easier to approve, but delay its implementation until Jan 1.
That gives Congress time to act — if it wants to. Federal legislation holding lawless officials directly responsible for their lawlessness would be a far more substantive and persuasive threat than simply withholding federal funds. It would also demonstrate Congress’ willingness to abide the 80% of Americans who believe sanctuary cities should be required to turn criminal illegals over to federal authorities, according to a Harvard–Harris Poll.
Is an 80% level of public approval enough for a GOP-controlled Congress to overcome what would undoubtedly be raging, foaming-at-the-mouth resistance, courtesy of the open borders crowd and their accomplices in the Democrat Party and the media?
The answer to that question is critical. Either we remain tethered to the Rule of Law — or surrender to leftist sensibilities. Sensibilities that amount to de facto secessionism already being championed in California.
In short, this is the issue that will determine whether America is nation of laws — or no nation at all.