Is California headed for a showdown with President Trump over immigration?
California law lets college students without legal immigration status pay in-state tuition, just as legal California residents do. Another recently-enacted law provides state-funded health insurance for unauthorized immigrant youths under 19. And Los Angeles police have a longstanding policy that prevents cops from questioning people for the purpose of determining their immigration status.
These and other policies run counter to the views embraced by president-elect Donald Trump during his campaign. Trump vowed to deport unauthorized immigrants, and has said he will pull federal funding from so-called “sanctuary cities,” a term that's loosely applied to municipalities that have immigrant-friendly policies.
Since Trump's victory Nov. 8, several California agencies have stated that they'll hold firm to their policies regarding immigrants and won't aid in deportations:
- Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck has said he will not change policies governing how the department handles unauthorized immigrants. As he told KPCC's AirTalk: "I depend on them to be witnesses to crime, I depend on them to report crime, I depend on them to support the police department," Beck said on Airtalk, "and none of that is as likely to happen if we become an arm of immigration enforcement."
- The board of the Los Angeles Unified School District has stated that the district will resist any request from the federal government to release students' information for immigration enforcement purposes “to the fullest extent provided by the law.”
- California State University Chancellor Timothy P. White has said that campus police won't honor federal requests for deportation holds, and that the university system would not voluntarily enter into immigration enforcement agreementswith federal or other law enforcement agencies.
- Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson is proposing that the city hire an "immigrant advocate" to help the city navigate anticipated changes in federal immigration policies and maintain federal funding under a Trump presidency. The city currently receives about $506 million a year in federal grants that help pay for services like affordable housing, public safety, transit programs and port security. The city council could vote on the motion Tuesday.
Some anticipate potential clashes between state and local governments and a Trump administration, depending on which immigration policies the incoming administration pursues.
"Even though federal authorities have paramount authority in immigration, it is going to be difficult for them to implement any policy without at least some cooperation from local governments and local law enforcement," said Raphael Sonenshein, a political scientist at Cal State Los Angeles.
"So this could become a real struggle," he said, "a real political and fiscal struggle.”
Experts say that struggle could lead to lawsuits flying in both directions, from a Is California headed for a showdown with President Trump over immigration? | 89.3 KPCC: