Policy Inequality

Here’s what you need to know about California becoming a sanctuary state

It looks like California might just become the first sanctuary state in the United States. SB 54, which was introduced in the Senate early December 2016 , includes provisions that would aptly categorize California as such, and immigrant groups are heavily pushing for its approval.

SB 54, also known as the “California Values Act,” would “prevent the use of state and local public resources to aid ICE agents in deportation actions.” This bill comes on the heels of President Trump’s fierce crackdown on immigration in the United States. Senator Kevin De León (D.) of California was the first to introduce the bill, along with fellow California Senator Richard Pan.

So, what’s this bill  do? 

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  • California law enforcement officials (both statewide and local) cannot carry out deportations.
  • ICE would be prohibited from entering public areas such as schools, courthouses, and hospitals, and would require California agencies to update and uphold confidentiality policies. This is an effort to encourage undocumented people to seek out public services as needed in a non-threatening environment.
  • The state would take positive measures to protect undocumented immigrants from federal reach.
  • However, ICE would be able to carry out a deportation if they obtained a judicial warrant.

What’s this whole “sanctuary state” thing about?

California could become a sanctuary state

Chad Zuber on Shutterstock

Opponents of the bill have complained that it might make California a “de facto sanctuary state”. But will it? That depends on how you define a “sanctuary”.

By the mainstream definition, the California Values Act would, in fact, make California a sanctuary.  “Sanctuary cities” define themselves as places that limit the power of ICE in their jurisdictions by not cooperating with ICE officials. IF SB 54 passed, California would fit that description perfectly.

ICE would still have all the power of the federal government to terrorize undocumented immigrants. The state of California would not be able to put a stop on deportation raids carried out with a judicial warrant. And with widespread recent ICE raids, many concentrated in California, the very possibility of deportations is frightening to many undocumented immigrants still living in the state.

Also important to note: ANY immigrant can turn away ICE for lacking a judicial warrant. ICE does not have the right to carry out a deportation without one. The “warrant requirement” is not unique to this bill at all.

Do we like this bill or not? 


In sum – yes. SB 54 doesn’t completely shield undocumented folks from ICE, as a bill like that can’t possibly exist. It would be openly defying federal law if it did. However, this bill is a huge step in protecting immigrants and de-criminalizing their existence.

If passed, the California Values Act would indeed make California a “de facto sanctuary state”, by all accepted definitions. That is an enormous symbolic step, if not also a severe hindrance for ICE in the state with the largest population of undocumented immigrants in the US.

Great, okay. How is this  bill doing now?

It’s doing well. A state senate committee approved it on February 1st.  The political climate in California is looking good overall, with California lawmakers proposing bills with a similar pro-sanctuary sentiments. Let’s bide our time, and hope this thing passes.

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Politics The World

Unpacking Trump’s disturbing first week in 14 quick points

It happened. It really happened.

One week ago, Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States. Since his election in November there’s been a lot of “Well, we don’t really know what he’s going to do. We don’t really know what a Trump Presidency will look like.”

Well, now a Trump Presidency is here and it’s becoming pretty clear what a Trump Presidency is going to look like. And it’s not pretty.

Here’s what the first week in Trump’s America looked like:

1. Trump ripped pieces of his inaugural speech from a Batman villain

I wish I was kidding. I really do. Unfortunately, I’m not. In his first address as POTUS, Donald Trump sounded eerily like Bane, the villain from Dark Knight Rises. Check out the side by side comparison of the inauguration speech and the scene from the movie.

2. The pages about LGBTQ+ issues, climate change and healthcare were removed from

Trump’s team wasted no time making their positions clear on the website. The pages about LGBTQ+ issues and civil rights briefly redirected to blank pages. Now, the page has an option for “Obama Archives”, which shows the Issues section of the website as it was under the Obama Administration, but the LGBTQ+ issues and civil rights still cannot be found.

The page on climate change was replaced with a page called “America First Energy Plan.”  There is no longer any mention of healthcare on the site.

3. Trump signed an executive order aimed at dismantling Obamacare

The executive order is not the repeal Trump promised in the campaign, but it lays the groundwork for an eventual repeal. The executive order signed allows federal agencies, like the Department of Health and Human services to delay laws that would impose a ‘fiscal burden’ on the federal or state government.

Of course, ‘fiscal burden’ is purposely vague, which allows these agencies to delay the enforcement of any pieces of Obamacare they want.

4. Trump signed an executive order that repeals mortgage breaks for low income borrowers

One of Obama’s last minute attempts to save the economy was to sign legislation which would reduce the yearly payments on mortgage loans for low income borrowers. Trump promptly repealed this legislation via executive order today, yet again demonstrating his commitment to Wall Street bankers, not the ‘little guy’ he promised to champion.

5. The Trump Administration made ‘Blue Lives Matter’ their official stance

The new site features a page entitled “Standing up for Our Law Enforcement Community”. The page is essentially a manifesto in support of policing. The page explicitly states that they will oppose anyone they believe to be ‘anti-police’. The page stops just short of stating direct opposition to Black Lives Matter and other organizations that advocate accountability in policing.

6. We finally found out what “America First” really means and it’s just as awful as we thought

Woman with her hands up looking very upset

Trump’s inaugural speech made it clear that he intends to deal with our ‘enemies’ and allies confrontationally. The speech also suggested that Trump intends to essentially cut America off from the rest of the world, including the global economy. In essence, the speech confirmed our fears that “America First” is the battle cry of an isolationist, nationalistic country.

7. As the Trump team begins to work on Federal budget cuts, programs for women are the first to go

Though Trump did not announce plans for federal budget cuts today, information is beginning to surface about what programs he’s looking to cut. Unsurprisingly, programs that benefit women are on the chopping block, specifically, grants for programs supporting survivors of domestic violence. Looks like misogyny will be the official policy of the Trump administration, not just rhetoric.

8. Plans were put in place for the construction of ‘The Wall’

Crowd at the RNC chanting

Trump has declared that the construction of ‘The Wall’ on the Mexican border will begin within months, but admits that Mexico will not be paying for it, at least in the short term. ‘The Wall’ will be funded by government money. Trump also announced plans to pay for the wall by imposing stiff tariffs on Mexican imports. ‘Concerned white women’ wonder what will happen to their guacamole and margaritas.

9. War has been declared on reproductive rights

If men got pregnant you could get an abortion at an ATM

Trump wasted no time this week following through on the pro-life rhetoric he used in his campaign. In the first days of is presidency he reinstated the Reagan error ‘gag order’ on abortions, which stipulates that any foreign nonprofit that performs abortion or even discusses abortion as a family planning option will lose their federal funding. The Trump administration also had a strong presence at the ‘March for Life’, an anti-abortion march in D.C. Trump’s promise to repeal Roe v. Wade and dismantle a woman’s right to her own body was not simply campaign rhetoric. He’s actively making this happen.

10. Construction of the Keystone Pipeline XL and Dakota Access Pipeline was approved

Standing Rock protests

Trump signed an executive order stating his intent to move forward with both the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would bring dirty oil from Canada all the way to the Gulf Coast, and the Dakota Access Pipeline, which would poison the water sources of First Nation tribes. Clearly this administration believes that oil, and money, are more important than clean drinking water or environmental preservation. Also more important than the property rights of the people whose land the pipeline will pass through.

11. The crackdown on immigration began

Trump poster to stop illegal immigration

Trump made several moves on immigration in the past week. First, Trump threatened to pull government money from any city that has declared itself a Sanctuary City.

Trump also expanded the criteria for deportation related to criminal activity. Obama’s plan for immigration included deporting undocumented immigrants who had been charged with a violent crime. Trump has essentially expanded this to included any undocumented immigrant who has been charged with a crime, committed a crime, or engaged in activity that could be considered a crime, even if they haven’t been charged. This order also expanded the number of ICE agents to be hired and directed cities to hold undocumented immigrants arrested for crimes until ICE could retrieve them, regardless of the crime.

Trump also signed an executive order that temporarily bans refugees from entering the country. The same order also states that visas will be blocked from a long list of Middle Eastern, African, and Asian countries until an ‘extreme vetting process’ is put in to place.

12. The public was introduced to a new concept: Alternative Facts

Kellyanne Conway morphing in to a robot skull

In his first White House press briefing, Sean Spicer, Trump’s White House Press Secretary blatantly lied to reporters about the size of the crowd at the inauguration. Trump then lied about whether or not it was raining when he gave his inaugural speech. Then Kellyanne Conway introduced us to the term ‘Alternative Facts’ which are what happens when the media wants to tell the truth and the administration disagrees. Of course, #AlternativeFacts became a hilarious trending topic on Twitter. The appalling disregard for the truth has already become a hallmark of the Trump administration, whose press team is awaiting just the right moment to announce their name change to ‘The Department of Propaganda’.

Trump also continued his attacks on the media, continuing to hint that he intends to restrict the First Amendment.

13. Trump reiterated his belief that torture works

Man being tortured for information

But said that the secretary of defense would have the final say on whether detainees would be tortured.

14. Trump hints we will lift sanctions with Russia

SNL skit of Trump and Putin living together in the White House

During a press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa, Trump said he was still considering lifting sanctions with Russia. May quickly responded that she believed the sanctions should stay in place. Trump has a phone call with Putin scheduled Saturday, so Trump can finally gush to Putin instead of just about him. Trump’s love for the Russian leader has been concerning to many for a long time, and the relationship seems to be getting closer.

That’s an exhaustive list for just a week. And it’s overwhelming to look at it all in one place. All the things we were worried about have started to happen and it’s only week one.

But we don’t have time to be exhausted or overwhelmed.

It’s time to Fight.

Time to Resist.

We will prevail.