California lawmakers on Saturday passed a “sanctuary state” bill to protect immigrants without legal residency in the U.S., part of a broader push by Democrats to counter expanded deportation orders under the Trumpadministration.
The legislation by Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), the most far-reaching of its kind in the country, would limit state and local law enforcement communication with federal immigration authorities, and prevent officers from questioning and holding people on immigration violations.
After passionate debate in both houses of the Legislature, staunch opposition from Republican sheriffs and threats from Trump administration officials against sanctuary cities, Senate Bill 54 was approved Saturday with a 27-11 vote along party lines. But the bill sent to Gov. Jerry Brown drastically scaled back the version first introduced, the result of tough negotiations between Brown and De León in the final weeks of the legislative session.
The decision came hours after a federal judge in Chicago blocked the Trump administration’s move to withhold Justice Department grant funds to discourage so-called sanctuary city policies.
On the Senate floor minutes before 2 a.m. on Saturday, De León said the changes were reasonable, and reflected a powerful compromise between law enforcement officials and advocates.
“These amendments do not mean to erode the core mission of this measure, which is to protect hardworking families that have contributed greatly to our culture and the economy,” he said. “This is a measure that reflects the values of who we are as a great state.”
Officially dubbed the “California Values Act,” the legislation initially would have prohibited state and local law enforcement agencies from using any resources to hold, question or share information about people with federal immigration agents, unless they had violent or serious criminal convictions.
After talks with Brown, amendments to the bill made this week would allow federal immigration authorities to keep working with state corrections officials and to continue entering county jails to question immigrants. The legislation would also permit police and sheriffs to share information and transfer people to immigration authorities if they have been convicted of one or more crimes from a list of 800 outlined in a previous law, the California Trust Act.
Some immigrant rights advocates who were previously disappointed with the list of offenses under the Trust Act, were dismayed to see the same exceptions applied in the so-called sanctuary state bill. The list includes many violent and serious crimes, as well as some nonviolent charges and “wobblers,” offenses that can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor, which advocates said has the potential to ensnare people who do not pose a danger to the public.
But immigrant rights groups did not withdraw their support for Senate Bill 54 and also won some concessions. Under the additions to the bill, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation would have to develop new standards to protect people held on immigration violations, and to allow immigrant inmates to receive credits toward their sentences serviced if they undergo rehabilitation and educational programs while incarcerated.
The state attorney general’s office would have to develop recommendations that limit immigration agents’ access to personal information. The attorney general also has broad authority under the state constitution to ensure that police and sheriffs agencies follow SB 54’s provisions should it be signed into law.
“This was a hard-fought effort, but the end product was worth the fight,” Jennie Pasquarella, immigrants’ rights director with the ACLU of California, said in a statement Saturday.
The compromise helped draw support for the bill from Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount), and moved the California Police Chiefs Assn.’s official position from opposed to neutral. The California Sheriffs Assn. remained opposed.
In a statement Saturday, Thomas Homan, acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said California politicians had “chosen to prioritize politics over public safety.”
“This bill severely undermines that effort and will make California communities less safe,” said Homan, who hosted a March town hall with Republican Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones on immigration enforcement that erupted in protests.
In their respective chambers on Friday, at least 20 members of the Assembly and six members of the Senate took the floor for debate on the bill, voicing complex stances on illegal immigration, federalism and the diversity of families in California.
Assemblyman Steven Choi (R-Irvine), a first-generation immigrant from South Korea, argued that he came to the U.S. legally and said the bill created “chaos” for a country built on law and order.
Others pointed to the opposition from sheriffs organizations, saying SB 54 tied officers’ hands, allowing serial thieves, chronic drug abusers and gang members to slip through the cracks. Supporters countered the Trump administration was trying to paint all immigrants in the country illegally as criminals.
They pointed to provisions in the bill that would make hospitals, schools and courthouses safe zones for immigrants from federal immigration authorities at a time of fear for some communities.
“We are ironically ending this session the way we started, talking about protecting the most vulnerable among us,” Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) said.
De León introduced SB 54 on what was an unusually acrimonious first day of the 2017 legislative session, as lawmakers in both chambers were locked in bitter debate over the still newly elected President Trump.
It was at the center of a legislative package filed by Democrats in an attempt to protect more than 2.3 million people living in the state illegally. Other legislative proposals and budget deals have expanded workplace protections against raids from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and increased legal defense services for immigrants facing deportation and financial aid for students without legal residency.
Senate Bill 54 received national attention as the U.S. Department of Justice pledged to slash government grants for law enforcement from any so-called sanctuary cities, which limit the collaboration between local and federal authorities on immigration enforcement.
In a statement Saturday, Department of Justice spokesman Devin O’Malley said “state lawmakers inexplicably voted today to return criminal aliens back onto our streets.”
“This abandonment of the rule of law by the Legislature continues to put Californians at risk, and undermines national security and law enforcement,” he said.
At the request of the California Senate earlier this year, former U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H Holder Jr. reviewed the bill and said it passed constitutional muster, adding that the states “have the power over the health and safety of their residents and allocation of state resources.”
Still, debate raged on and divided even law enforcement officials and associations. In Los Angeles, Police Chief Charlie Beck voiced his support, while L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell was a vocal opponent.
In a statement Saturday, McDonnell said the final version of the bill was not perfect, but “reflects much of what the LASD implemented years ago and the work is well underway.”
On Friday, lawmakers said some children without legal status were too afraid to go to school, while police statistics showed a drop in reports of sexual assault and domestic violence as immigrant victims refused to come forward.
Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) said the era was reminiscent of the 1980s, when her father dreaded immigration raids.
“We are not living in a hypothetical fear,” she said. “That fear is a reality.”
Tens of thousands of activists took to the streets of Catalonia in protest against police violence during the outlawed independence referendum.
Metro stations shut down in Barcelona and traffic, public transport and businesses were disrupted as pickets blocked dozens of roads after trade unions called a strike in the wake of the violence.
Nearly 900 people were hurt as police struck voters with batons and dragged them along the streets as they tried to stop the referendum on Sunday.
The vote had been deemed illegal by the Madrid government and the country’s top court, but was backed by the Catalan regional authorities.
Catalonia’s leader Carles Puigdemont told the BBC that the region would declare independence in a matter of days.
He said that his government would “act at the end of this week or the beginning of the next”.
If the Spanish government tries to intervene, he said it would be an “error which changes everything”.
In solidarity with Catalans, a few hundred people gathered outside Downing Street in London to demonstrate against the police violence and call for Spain’s prime minister Mariano Rajoy to resign.
On Tuesday, about 300,000 people took to the streets of Barcelona to march in protest, the news agency AFP quoted city police as saying.
Barcelona FC, the city’s football club, joined the strike, saying it would close for the day and none of its teams would train. Carmaker SEAT was forced to shut a production line.
To the north of Barcelona, a line of tractors moved down a road blocked to traffic, accompanied by protesters chanting “Independence!” and “The streets will always be ours!”
Groups of firemen marched and played bagpipes in Barcelona as people cheered them.
People entwined flowers into the gates of Ramon Llull school, where Spanish police clashed with those wanting to vote in the banned referendum on Sunday.
Barcelona tourist attractions such as museums and architect Antoni Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia church, were shut.
Outside Downing Street in London, activists carried placards which read: “Stop the repression. Rajoy must go” and chanted: “Rajoy, hear us say ‘State violence, no way’. Theresa May, hear us say ‘State violence, no way”‘.
Marc Delcort Fradera, who is based in the UK but returned to Barcelona to vote at the weekend, said he had felt moved to “mobilise” following the violence.
He said: “When I woke up on Sunday I just couldn’t believe. I was expecting some kind of repression by the Spanish police but I didn’t expect that much repression and violence.”
He added: “It’s (tonight is) the first demonstration I’ve been to. After what I saw yesterday and Sunday I decided I wanted to do something and start mobilising because something has to change.”
Catalonia, Spain’s richest region, has its own language and culture and a political movement for independence that has strengthened in recent years.
Pro-independence parties who control the regional government staged Sunday’s referendum in defiance of Spanish courts that had ruled it illegal.
Hundreds were injured on polling day when police fired rubber bullets and charged at crowds with truncheons to disrupt the vote.
Those who participated voted overwhelmingly for independence, a result that was expected since residents who favour remaining part of Spain mainly boycotted the vote.
Opinion polls conducted before the vote suggested only a minority of around 40 per cent of residents in the region back independence. But a majority wanted a referendum to be held, and protesters said the violent police crackdown against the ballot had energised the breakaway camp.
“What happened on October 1 has fired up independence feeling that will never die,” said 18-year-old student Monica Ventinc, who attended a protest on Tuesday.
Spain’s King Felipe VI gave a televised address to the nation at 9pm local time (7pm UK time) on Tuesday after he met the prime minister to discuss the situation in Catalonia.
He said the “irresponsible behaviour” of Catalan leaders put Spain’s economic stability at risk.
The king added that the state needs to ensure constitutional order and the rule of law in Catalonia.
He said that the bid by authorities in the north-eastern region to push ahead with independence has “undermined coexistence” in Catalonia.
“Today, Catalan society is fractured and confronted,” Felipe said, referring to the political crisis as “very serious moments for our democratic life”.
Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has said the referendum is valid and its result must be implemented. Spain’s Constitutional Court prohibited the ballot, siding with Madrid which argued that it contravened the country’s 1978 constitution which bars breaking up the country.
The referendum has plunged Spain into its worst constitutional crisis in decades, and is a political test for Mr Rajoy, a conservative who has taken a hardline stance on the issue.
Outside of Catalonia, Spaniards mostly hold strong views against its independence drive.
This is not to say that these protests should become violent to attract media attention. The deficit is rather on the other side. The mainstream corporate media should be covering these many nonviolent protests where people risk arrest and often go to jail for their actions.
The G20 (or G-20 or Group of Twenty) is an international forum for the governments and central bank governors from 20 major economies. It was founded in 1999 with the aim of studying, reviewing, and promoting high-level discussion of policy issues pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability. (Wikipedia)
This article was written in response to an article about an anti-G20 action in June:
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Forbes’ “Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story” is a magnificent documentary that focuses on Atwater, a horrible but fascinating character. From Atwater’s quick rise in the College Republicans during the time of Nixon, through his years in the Reagan White House, to the height of his political career as George H.W. Bush’s ’88 campaign manager and head of the RNC, Forbes shows how negative campaigning, manipulating the media and flat-out lying seemed to come as easy to Lee Atwater as picking his beloved blues guitar.
But “Boogie Man” isn’t just about the bloodthirsty win-at-all-costs side of Atwater. Forbes does an incredible job of highlighting the undercurrents of Atwater’s life and times that helped shape him as a person as well as a political powerhouse, such as his upbringing in the South with its deep scars and racial tensions, the childhood loss of his brother, the excess and uber-ambitious attitudes of the ’80s, and, perhaps most importantly, his charm. Liberal journalist Eric Alterman, despite all of his distaste for Atwater’s negative style, describes Lee Atwater as “the most fun man I ever met,” and with the amount of film that Forbes has of Atwater singing, playing guitar and generally having a good time, it shows.
But even with all his charisma, it’s hard not to watch “Boogie Man” without focusing on the fact that if there hadn’t been an Atwater, George H.W. Bush or even Ronald Reagan may never have been elected. Karl Rove would not be the power player he is today, and George W. Bush (who became friends with Atwater during his father’s presidential campaign) wouldn’t have learned the worst lesson in politics: winning at all costs. This is the lesson that is Atwater’s legacy, shown by many of the stories from those interviewed who were left much worse off for being on the wrong side of Atwater’s insidious politics (the most interesting of these being Mike Dukakis … Willie Horton, anyone?).
Forbes tells Atwater’s whole story, ending with the sudden illness that led to Atwater’s death at the young age of 40, and the supposed remorse that he felt about the undignified way that he had affected politics. Remorseful or not, Atwater had an influence that can be seen in modern politics today, and it looks like many of his tactics are here to stay. Take the time to learn about the man who took dirty politics to a whole new level, and the next time you hear someone describe McCain’s current campaign as “Rovian,” correct them. It is “Atwateresque.”
(WASHINGTON) — The Supreme Court is expected to decide within days whether the Trump administration can enforce a ban on visitors to the U.S. from six mostly Muslim countries. The high-stakes legal fight has been going on since President Donald Trump rolled out a travel ban just a week after his inauguration. He casts it…