The vocal resistance to President Donald Trump’s sanctimonious decision last week to pull the plug on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program after a six-month delay has been encouraging — at least in California.
Across the state, school superintendents, city officials, college presidents and leaders of the University of California and California State University have voiced their opposition to the decision and their support for the DACA students within their institutions.
As a result of Trump’s action, “the Dreamers face expulsion from the only country that they call home, based on nothing more than unreasoned executive whim,” reads a lawsuit filed by the UC system on Friday against the Trump administration, arguing that the president’s actions violated constitutional guarantees of due process and federal protections against arbitrary actions by the government.
The lawsuit contends that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave no reasonable explanation for ending the program, which has allowed some 800,000 children from undocumented families to work, drive and go to school without fear of deportation.
Meanwhile, Gov. Jerry Brown and top lawmakers announced this week that they plan to allocate $30 million to help young immigrants from undocumented families pay their college financial aid as well as pay any legal expenses if they are targeted for deportation as a result of their involvement with the DACA program.
California DACA recipients should be encouraged by these demonstrations of solidarity.
But none are likely to have as direct a positive benefit on these immigrant families and their children as a deal reached last week to improve the wording on the “sanctuary state” bill known as SB 54.
The bill would limit the help that state and local law enforcement agencies — as well as school police and security departments — could offer federal immigration authorities seeking to investigate, detain or arrest individuals for possible deportation. It would limit it, but it would not ban assistance as some critics have argued.
We had concerns, as did law enforcement officials across the state, with earlier versions of the bill that appeared to prevent assistance in the deportation of undocumented immigrants who are convicted of serious or violent crimes. We see no benefit in granting sanctuary to such offenders.
But the governor and Senate President pro tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, reached a compromise this week that would allow state and local officials to share information about inmates who are convicted of one of nearly 800 criminal offenses, many of which were not identified in the earlier version of the legislation.
At the same time, this bill would make clear that police officers and sheriff’s deputies are prohibited from asking individuals about their immigration status and accepting detainment “hold requests” from Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.
This measure puts the emphasis where it belongs, deporting criminals, while providing sanctuary to those who are contributing members of society despite being without proper documentation. The next step would be for federal officials to provide these individuals with a path toward legal residency and, perhaps, eventual citizenship. But given the aggressive stance by this administration on deportation without regard for the impacts on families, businesses and the economy in general, we don’t see hope of that path clearing anytime soon.