In San Francisco, CA, there are 24 hour staffers who help field calls about potential issues with immigration enforcement. Others flood neighborhoods to film arrests and interview witnesses. Many local governments are hiring immigration lawyers to help those facing deportation hearings.
California and the White House have, for the better part of 2017 and now 2018, faced off over immigration enforcement, creating a pseudo referendum on state's rights and how federal intervention should play a role. It is a deeply personal battle in the nation’s most populous and economically powerful state, where 27 percent of the 39 million residents are foreign-born.
Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions filed a lawsuit against California, stating its immigration practices violated the Constitution. He stated that California local and state practices were on par with “secession” and a “radical open-borders agenda.” California, shot back, with San Francisco mayor Mark Farrell (D) saying Sessions was a “moron” and has recently proposed expanding the budget for public defenders. Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg (D) told public radio he would “proudly resist.”
Eric Cohen, the 57-year-old executive director of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, a national nonprofit organization headquartered in the Mission District of San Francisco, stated, “Local governments and state government have stepped up in a way to protect immigrants like never before in my lifetime.” Currently, California has granted undocumented immigrants privileges they can’t get in most other states: driver’s licenses, in-state college tuition and even some financial aid.
OUR VERDICT: California might be on the front lines of the immigration effort, but questions on how long they can stay will be left up to the courts. California officials say they are not stopping immigration agents from arresting criminals and are making allowances so agents can take serious offenders into custody at state prisons. But ICE says California’s efforts puts its workforce in danger, forcing agents to pursue criminals on the streets, often without local police backup.