2017-06-23 / Editorials

Sanctuary state bill might do more harm than good

In her two successful campaigns for state office, Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Camarillo) has frequently cited public safety as a top priority, pointing voters to her 10 years as a city council member of one of the nation’s safest cities, Thousand Oaks.

While many in her party were coming out in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana, Irwin was citing studies out of Colorado that showed the negative consequences faced by the state in the aftermath of legalization there.

Considering these positions—and her close relationship with Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean—it comes as some surprise to see Irwin refusing to take a position against Senate Bill 54, as public safety agencies across the state, including many locally, have done.

Opponents have decried the so-called sanctuary state bill as an unnecessary overreach that will limit law enforcement’s ability to detain serious criminals who might otherwise be released back onto the streets.

But while supporters of Assemblymember Kevin de León’s (D-Los Angeles) bill say it is an appropriate response to the Trump administration’s stance on illegal immigration—and will protect local families from being ripped apart—the law may actually do more harm than good by sending federal agents into the community in search of bad guys to take into custody when the work of the immigration cops could be taking place in the jails, the California Police Chiefs Association has said.

Back to Sheriff Dean.

A progressive lawman who has a long history of working effectively within our immigrant communities, Dean calls SB 54 a product of political rhetoric that will do nothing to change his department’s hands-off approach to enforcing immigration statutes. Other local public safety agencies have said the same.

Instead of protecting law- abiding immigrants, the bill would protect serious felons who should instead be turned over to the federal government for deportation.

“Current policy of allowing (Immigrant and Customs Enforcement) to vet those in jail for criminal offenses specifically identifies the criminal immigrants we may not want returning to our streets,” Dean said.

We share the concerns of many residents who feel the solution to the country’s illegal immigration problem depends on reinforcing our borders and passing common-sense reform that opens a path to citizenship—not in deporting longtime residents whose only crime was crossing the border to seek a better life.

This lose-lose law forfeits common sense for political gain.

It’s as if the lawmakers who wrote this bill did so with same broad brush used by those benighted Americans who paint all immigrants as criminals or terrorists. This is what happens when unfounded fears on either side of the aisle drive legislation.

Remember when the cops warned us about Prop. 47, which awarded reduced penalties for certain crimes, and we ignored them?

Let’s not make that mistake twice.

Irwin, we ask that you please vote “no” on SB 54.

Return to top