Capitol Alert

California reacts to Trump immigration actions: ‘shameful,’‘unpatriotic’ and ‘un-American’

President Donald Trump, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, center, and Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly, right, gestures as he is introduced before speaking at the Homeland Security Department in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017.
President Donald Trump, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, center, and Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly, right, gestures as he is introduced before speaking at the Homeland Security Department in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017. AP

California advocacy groups and politicians, most of of them Democrats, reacted swiftly to President Donald Trump’s actions Wednesday to begin construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and end federal funding for sanctuary cities, which do not enforce immigration laws.

Following is a look at their statements:

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra:

“It is important to put these White House executive actions in context.

Executive orders do not change existing law. Executive orders cannot contradict existing law. And Executive orders can be challenged for violating constitutional and legal standards in their enforcement.

The California Department of Justice (DOJ) is prepared to protect the public safety and general welfare of all Californians as well as their privacy and property rights. These are rights and protections which have survived numerous legal challenges over time. And they are grounded on our federal and state constitutions not on an executive pronouncement.

The California DOJ will protect the rights of all of its people from unwarranted intrusion from any source, including the federal government. In California, we want to foster trust between law enforcement authorities and the communities they are obliged to protect. That's why California enacted the TRUST and TRUTH acts to guide our men and women in uniform on the proper execution of their public safety duties.

California is prepared to work with our federal government to enhance the safety and well-being of all our people. We will work with our sister states to achieve mutual goals of respect and cooperation with the federal government. And we will remain ready to advance and defend California's policies wherever and whenever necessary.”

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein:

“The two executive orders signed today by President Trump won’t help fix our immigration system.

“The orders did not address the future of the DACA program, the number one issue at hand. California is home to nearly half of all DACA youth. It’s a successful program that I think the president should leave alone. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said DACA youth wouldn’t be a priority and I hope he follows through on that.

“The order concerning the president’s border wall was unclear and there’s little chance Congress will divert billions of dollars to it when there are far more important priorities.

“The solution to immigration won’t be a series of disjointed policy provisions. What we need is comprehensive immigration reform. The Senate passed a bipartisan bill in 2013 and we need to do so again.”

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles:

“It should go without saying that America is and always has been a nation of immigrants. It’s part of our national heritage and vital to our prosperity. Clearly, there are and should be limits on immigration and it is the responsibility of the federal government to set those limits. We can all agree that we need comprehensive immigration reform – clear, predictable and fair guidelines, with secure borders and a path to citizenship for those who are undocumented. But the executive actions announced today are counterproductive, divisive and unnecessary. They won’t make us safer. They won’t bring back jobs or solve our economic challenges. In fact, these measures do just the opposite.

These are spiteful and mean-spirited directives that only instill fear in the hearts of millions of people who pay taxes, contribute to our economy and our way of life. Tearing apart honest, hardworking families is not the answer. Separating mothers from their children is no solution. These measures are inconsistent with our values and we will have no part in their implementation. If the new President wants to wage a campaign of fear against innocent families, he can count us out.

We will not spend a single cent, nor lift a finger to aid his efforts. In fact, the Senate will expedite the process to pass my bill, SB 54, to prevent state and local tax dollars and law enforcement resources from being used to help ICE destroy families and damage our economy. The bill will be heard in both the judiciary and public safety committees on Tuesday.

We will also fast-track SB 6 by Senator Ben Hueso – the Due Process for All Act – to make sure those facing deportation have due process and adequate legal representation. Thanks to the supermajority we won in November, we have the ability to use urgency clauses to implement new laws immediately, and the actions of the new administration demand an immediate response.

We will also explore all of our legal options, in collaboration with Attorney General Becerra and the legislature’s outside legal counsel. Singling out states and cities with punitive threats and withholding federal resources as today’s order on sanctuary cities does, is unconstitutional. It’s not the job of our local and county and state law enforcement to turn the cogs of President Trump’s deportation machine. He cannot force us and we will not hesitate to fight him in Congress and settle the matter in court.”

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom:

“President Trump claims to bring his business acumen to the White House but today’s announcement is not just inhumane and immoral – it is a declaration of national economic devastation.

“Inflicting financial sanctions or mass deportation on the nation’s most economically-dynamic regions would decimate the workforce, strip businesses of their consumer base, and eviscerate the entrepreneurialism that drives our economy.

“It’s also irresponsible and irrational to force cities to participate in deportation crackdowns by threatening to take away their public safety and homeland security dollars – since the inevitable result will be making our cities and our homeland far less safe and secure. Immigrants and local communities should not be compelled to spend precious taxpayer dollars doing the job of the federal government on immigration enforcement.

“Reasonable people share support for local, state and federal cooperation in pursuing dangerous violent criminals, regardless of their immigration status. This was San Francisco’s policy and one I fought to uphold as mayor.

“During that time, however, I also witnessed the federal government’s abuse of those powers, where they swept up law abiding individuals, separated parents from children, and sowed seeds of distrust between communities and local law enforcement. That is why citywide refuge policies are widely supported by law enforcement and the public at large.

“If President Trump and Republicans in Washington are serious about the economy, and law and order, they would be wise to abandon this cynical nativism.”

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount:

“Here in California we are concerned that these policies are based more on campaign buzzwords than on legal and economic realities.

“The language is so broad that mass deportations are likely without real due process. Sanctuary cities were established to make communities safer and free up law enforcement for real crimes. Our cities can’t afford to shift law enforcement resources to help track down law-abiding individuals. Our agricultural industry and other economic sectors, businesses large and small, depend on an immigrant workforce. If those businesses suffer, the national economy will suffer, too, and that’s all on Trump.

“It’s sad Donald Trump thinks these executive orders make America safer, and it’s sad he thinks they make America better.

“These orders are exactly why the Legislature is taking steps to help immigrants with access to legal counsel to ensure due process. We’re also examining ways the state can aid sanctuary cities, and that’s an area we believe former Attorney General Holder and the Covington law firm can also be helpful.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield:

“Few things are more fundamental to a nation than a defined and protected border. The lack of security on our southern border is a threat to the safety of our homeland and the Obama Administration’s catch-and-release policy was an affront to the rule of law. President Trump’s actions are the right start to enforcing our laws and protecting our citizens.”

United Farm Workers President Arturo S. Rodriguez:

“U.S. Department of Labor surveys show the majority of U.S. farm workers are undocumented. The United Farm Workers’ anecdotal experience in California and other states where we are active shows the percentage of undocumented workers is even higher.

So if today’s executive orders from Donald Trump signal the beginning of fulfilling his oft-repeated campaign pledge to deport the undocumented, then who is going to feed America? Who is going to feed the guests at Trump hotels and golf courses? Who is going to feed Donald Trump?”

California State Sen. and California Latino Legislative Caucus Chair Ben Hueso, D-San Diego:

“President Trump’s executive order to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border is a dim-witted publicity stunt that is more aimed at disparaging an important international ally than curbing illegal crossings. Building walls is a failed political policy that should remain in medieval history. In addition, building a multi-billion dollar wall is a reckless waste of taxpayer dollars that will not prevent crossings. If he was interested in truly creating jobs and protecting America’s economy and national defense, he should make wise investments in reducing border wait times, opening foreign markets by treating our allies and closest neighbors with respect, and dignity. In addition, the President needs to invest our precious tax dollars in policies directed at developing housing, education and improving health. Our allies will retaliate every executive order that seeks to hurt them. He is needlessly attacking them in a manner that will most definitely result in conflict not the harmonious relationships we need to cultivate to promote a shared prosperity.”

San Francisco-based National Center for Lesbian Rights, Executive Director Kate Kendell:

“Today’s executive orders on immigration confirm our worst fears that the Trump Administration will pursue inhumane, costly, and ineffective policies that will do nothing to make our nation more safe. Members of the LGBTQ community are in every community and are targets of violence and harassment throughout the world. The orders issued today will only make these individuals more likely to suffer and be tortured or murdered. These fear-based policies will not make any American more safe, nor will they improve the lives of any citizen. Rather, these proposals will cost millions of dollars in taxpayer funds and terrorize already vulnerable communities. We must all fight back, resist, and engage to stop these reckless measures. We are a better nation than one that exacts intentional harm on those seeking to improve their lives.”

David Huerta, President of SEIU United Service Workers West:

“In appealing to fear, cynicism, and hatred, the orders signed today are as unpatriotic as they are counterproductive. The working people of SEIU California reject these divisive actions and stand united in our resolve to defend the dreams and contributions of immigrants and the promise of justice for the oppressed.

“Just as attacks on women in this election cycle ignited a historic national action to defend civil rights, and attacks on immigrants in California unleashed a new majority of voters and activists two decades ago, these orders will serve only to awaken the conscience of millions of voters.

“In California, a state where more than one in four residents are immigrants, the fear-mongering and racism behind these orders take on particular meaning. They represent attacks on our communities, our families, our colleagues, our neighbors and union brothers and sisters. They won’t stand. SEIU members applaud and support the efforts of the California leaders who have committed to defend all the people who are the strength of our diverse Golden State.”

Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco:

“Today is a shameful day for our country, but it only strengthens my resolve to stand up against the alarming bigotry and hatred emanating from the White House. If President Trump believes signing a piece of paper will for one second change how San Francisco and California value and protect our immigrant neighbors, he is underestimating our strength and spirit. Our immigrant communities need us more than ever and we will be there for them every step of the way. Trump can try to build his wall and he can try to cut off funding for sanctuary cities, but he’s in for one hell of a fight.”

MALDEF President and General Counsel Thomas A. Saenz:

“These are alt-right, dog-whistle executive directives, with great long-term cost to the soul and safety of our nation. However, our communities will not be cowed by irresponsible rhetoric couched in terms of executive authority.

Donald Trump’s border Wall Mahal threatens to bankrupt the nation’s treasury just as Trump bankrupted his own businesses in the past through overblown construction projects. Because today’s order only commences planning, Congress has the opportunity to prevent the profligate use of federal resources to construct this monument to waste and excess.

Aggressive interior enforcement is an abject failure, delivering tremendous upheaval and harm to families, schools, and workplaces. The economic disruption to critical industries, such as agriculture, from such efforts render these executive orders a direct and undiluted threat to United States national security. There are serious constitutional questions about the enforcement proposals, and untoward activity will elicit court challenge. Reviving the thoroughly discredited and misnamed ‘Secure Communities’ program, which actually undermined both security and community, will not make America great again. And no amount of lipstick – through alternative facts or otherwise – will transform the pig of a program that the administration seeks to embrace.

Finally, threatening cities and communities that value the contributions of immigrants and that recognize the injustice in current immigration laws and practices does nothing but undermine public safety and foster division in our nation. Any order that promises to take monies from immigrant-protective cities is an impotent effort to overreach executive authority. Once again, the Congress can and should block this attempt to impinge on federalism and to undermine successful communities.”

Rusty Hicks, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO:

“President Trump’s dark deportation scheme has moved from cynical campaign tactic to an un-American reality.

“Angelenos come from more than 140 countries and speak 224 languages. Our strength lies in our diversity. The LA Fed will remain united with the 1,000,000 undocumented immigrants in Los Angeles County.

“We have already strengthened protections for immigrant workers in collective bargaining agreements. Now, with our State Legislators and County Board of Supervisors, we will grow the 100 attorneys we have already organized into a much larger force to make sure every immigrant has a lawyer to defend their rights to a fair process.

“For decades, Los Angeles and California have been stronger, more progressive, and more prosperous than the rest of the nation. Unfortunately, President Trump has chosen to take our nation down the dark path of division and exclusion.”

Assemblywoman and California Latino Legislative Caucus Vice Chairwoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San Diego:

“My district is one the most diverse set of neighborhoods in the entire country. I represent immigrant communities that include the border with Mexico as well as one of our nation’s largest refugee communities in City Heights. Donald Trump’s actions today run contrary to our most basic American values of compassion and inclusion. He will jeopardize the lives of thousands of innocent men, women and children who are in harm’s way. Forcing police to freelance as border agents doesn’t make our communities safer, nor neither does wasting billions of American tax dollars to further divide our binational community with a border wall. This is embarrassingly un-American.”

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