CA City Appoints 2 Illegal Immigrants to Commission

Huntington ParkThe city of Huntington Park, perhaps best known as being the home town of Rosario Marin, former treasurer of the United States, made news recently by appointing two people who are in this country illegally to its city commissions.

According to a Los Angeles Times article, the two appointees have to successfully complete Live Scan background checks before they can assume their positions.

The article further states that commissioners have to be residents of Huntington Park, though the city can allow up to two commissioners to be nonresidents.

These appointments are understandably controversial and they raise some interesting questions, the first of which is: To what extent should we allow noncitizens (and possibly nonresidents) to participate in local government? The second would be: How should we differentiate between legal and illegal immigrants?

There are some countries, such as Sweden, in which resident noncitizens who are in the country legally are entitled to vote in state and municipal elections. Indeed, a resident noncitizen who is entitled to vote in a Swedish state and municipal election can also be elected to both of those governing bodies.

It should be noted, though, that people who are in Sweden illegally can’t register a domicile and can’t get a Swedish ID number (which is similar to our Social Security number, but with many more practical uses). In other words, people who are in the country illegally can’t vote or serve as elected officials.

Makes sense.

In Beverly Hills, we have a residency requirement for our commissioners that applies to citizens and noncitizens alike. Both citizens and noncitizens have to be legal residents of Beverly Hills prior to being allowed to serve on a commission. So someone who has an address in Beverly Hills, but doesn’t actually live here, would not legally and/or legitimately be considered a resident and would not be permitted to serve on a commission.

I would argue that somebody who is not in the country legally is by definition neither a legal nor legitimate resident of this city, and therefore should not be allowed to serve on a commission.

Big Problem — The big problem with the Huntington Park situation is illustrated in a quote by former Huntington Park mayor, Ric Loya, who supports the appointments and who said: “A lot of people who came here legally or illegally, they’re going to say this is great. Everybody can be involved in government, as long as it’s done legally.”

On the one hand, Loya says everyone can be involved in government, as long as it’s done legally. On the other hand, his statement effectively tries to erase any difference between legal and illegal. Legal, illegal: We should all participate, as long as it’s legal. Sorry, there has to be a difference between the meaning of the words “legal” and “illegal,” both as a matter of fairness and common sense.

If we try to eliminate the distinctions between “legal” and “illegal,” we might as well change the meanings of “right” and “wrong.” Neither should we treat those who have broken the rules the same as those who have played by them.

Who ultimately gets to decide which rules, which laws we can break without any consequences?

The notion that someone who is in this country illegally can pass a background check seems somewhat absurd – unless the check’s sole purpose is to exclude felons who have been convicted of violent crimes.

What, in the background check, aside from the obvious violent crimes and felonies, would disqualify someone from serving on a commission in Huntington Park? A prior conviction for which someone had already served his time? Civil financial infractions? A failed drug test? Whatever the case, it seems that people whose very presence in this country is predicated on a violation of our laws should not be allowed to serve on municipal commissions within a governmental entity.

Those who feel that breaking immigration laws is either a “victimless infraction” or a “trivial offense” would need to create a full list and specify which crimes, offenses or misdemeanors should disqualify people from serving on city commissions and why.

Beyond the issue of city commissions, the attempt to render the distinctions between the words “legal” and “illegal” meaningless – as is often done by polemicists who refuse to acknowledge the difference between anti-immigrant positions and anti-illegal-immigration views – is very dangerous from both a linguistic and a public-policy perspective.

A misappropriation of the terms could effectively justify a selective following of and enforcement of any number of laws as well as, conversely, encourage vigilantism.

While the Huntington Park decision might be motivated by pure populism, it is extremely problematic in its obvious disregard for federal law; the city shouldn’t complain when its own residents start deciding which municipal laws they themselves do and don’t want to obey.

John Mirisch is the Vice Mayor of Beverly Hills and an occasional contributor to CityWatch.

Originally published by L.A. City Watch

Democratic Immigrant Protection Bills Don’t Solve Poverty Problem

Legislative Democrats heralded a package of bills they purport to aid and protect undocumented immigrants. Acknowledging the humanitarian concern behind the package, the plan will do little to help immigrants achieve the American Dream if something isn’t done to provide middle class jobs. Without them, many immigrants here and those attracted by California ‘s largesse are subject to a life of poverty.

Immigration reform is a Federal issue but California’s Democratic legislative leadership chooses to take the issue on to the extent that they can with this package of bills. There are many concerns associated with the bills worthy of serious questions and doubt, not the least of which is the immediate cost. Leading the cost concern is Senator Ricardo Lara’s SB 4 that would add 1.5 million undocumented immigrants to the already stressed Medi-Cal roles.

Putting the cost question aside for the moment, as well as the implication that the laws likely would serve as a magnet to draw even more undocumented immigrants to California, an important question is if these proposals become law will the immigrants the laws are designed to assist continue to be prisoners of California’s poverty prison?

California leads the nation in the number of people trapped in poverty. Many are immigrants in the country illegally. Without creation of good paying jobs many likely will remain victims of poverty.

The push for minimum wage increases is not the real answer to the poverty problem. Modifying regulations and cutting taxes to promote small business is one solution. Offering incentives to encourage the capital investment needed to create manufacturing jobs that pay middle class wages is another.

Taking the major step to encourage middle class jobs is the best thing the state can do for all California’s residents.

Joel Fox is Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

Originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

150,000 Licenses Given to “Undocumented” Immigrants in CA

After two months of granting driver’s licenses to once-undocumented immigrants, California officials reported big numbers. The Golden State program has supplied licenses to almost 150,000 immigrants. Supporters of the move have been quick to tout its perceived advantages — and to boost participation among those eligible.

Similar programs have been introduced in nine other states and the District of Columbia.

Originally introduced by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, the bill to issue driver’s licenses regardless of legal immigration status was passed into law in 2013. Assembly Bill 60, the Safe and Responsible Driver Act, permitted the expansion to take effect on the first day of 2015.

As the law specified, recipients did not get licenses identical to those possessed by U.S. citizens. Thanks to the requirements of federal law, the special licenses differed in their visual appearance by being marked, “FEDERAL LIMITS APPLY.” They cannot be used for specified purposes like entering restricted federal areas.

Now, with the process established by the law well under way, Alejo began urging Californians to help eligible recipients take advantage of the program. There, he said, the key is ensuring interested participants actually pass the driving exam.

“It took us 20 years to pass this law in Sacramento, and now that it is a reality, it is up to all our community, not just the legislators, not just the DMV but also organizations in our communities, to take it seriously and put aside the time to study the books, and be able to pass those tests,” he said.

As the Californian reported, in January, “The statewide written knowledge exam passage rate for all applicants for a new driver’s license was 48 percent, including AB60 applicants” — an increase of 1 percentage point over the Jan. 2014 results.

Outsized demand

But other requirements and hurdles kept licenses out of the hands of many undocumented immigrants who wanted them. “Altogether, about 387,000 undocumented immigrants applied for licenses during the first two months of the program, the state said, but only 131,000 were granted them,” according to Reuters. “Immigrants applying for the licenses must still prove their identities with birth certificates or other means,” in addition to passing the driver’s test.

The flood of demand has reflected a growing sense statewide that beneficiaries simply won’t be subject to increased scrutiny at the federal level. Activists in the legal field have adopted a wait-and-see approach.

“The DMV has said they will not refer these cases to law enforcement as long as the person used the license for driving purposes only and did not commit any other criminal activity,” said one San Francisco attorney at the Asian Law Caucus. “We have not yet seen how this policy is playing out, so we are advising people to use caution.”

More organs

Although the licensing program has divided voters in California, where the issue of undocumented immigrants remains sharply unpopular among many residents, beneficiaries of AB60 have scored a public relations coup of sorts thanks to an unanticipated development: increased rates of organ donation.

As the Fresno Bee reported, the California Transplant Donor Network reasoned the law spurred an increase of some 30 percent:

“From Jan. 2 to March 3, 56,000 people signed up as organ donors, according to the donor network, the only federally designated organ recovery organization in Northern and Central California and Northern Nevada.

“‘It’s got to be more than a coincidence that in the past three months — since AB60 took effect — so many people were added to the donor registry, said spokesman Anthony Borders. ‘It’s the only spike that’s happened in the last few years.’”

Although analysts have not yet connected all the dots, some accounts suggested Latinos who immigrated illegally have benefited from clear religious support in opting to donate.

“Recent popes have spoken in favor of organ donations,” the Orange County Register reported. “Pope Benedict XVI was a card-holding organ donor until he became pope, according to the Catholic News Agency. More recently, Pope Francis described organ donations as ‘a testimony of love for our neighbor.’”

Francis is the first pope from Latin America.

Originally published on CalWatchdog.com

Obama’s Deportation Policy Ignores Most Illegal Immigrants

President Barack Obama’s immigration policy has left most illegal immigrants with clean records untouched, only focusing on illegals with criminal records and repeat border violators, a new study shows.

The study, conducted by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), found that around 95 percent of those deported met the national security requirements Obama stipulated, while only 5 percent, or 77,000, illegal immigrants were deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with no criminal record. MPI tracked the data from 2009 to 2013.

Although President Obama has stated that he will refine deportation procedures later this year, the report states that unless he modifies priorities, there will be no significant increase in deportation. Instead of worksite and random enforcement, the Obama administration has shifted significantly from the previous Bush, meaning that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) focuses mostly on the border, rather than interior areas. This is to ensure that deportation is more “human,” and for Obama, border enforcement helps to eliminate the climate of fear among already established illegals in the country.

Researchers argued that attempts to render deportation more human and reduce fear have actually lead to increased illegal immigration.

“In effect, the Obama administration has shifted from a more generalized model of enforcement to a model focused almost exclusively on illegal border crossers, obstructionists, and criminals…These policies allow for the exercise of discretion to not deport most people who fall outside these parameters,” the report noted.

Even with priority illegals, however, a recent study from the Center for Immigration Studies showed that in fiscal year 2014, ICE predicted that it would deport only 312,000 immigrants, a sharp drop of 25 percent from the amount ICE said it had funding to deport. In fiscal year 2014, ICE released 442,000 of 585,000 illegals it encountered, amounting to a stunning 75 percent release rate. No attempt was made by the agency to deport them.

ICE shot back, saying that some deportations cost more than others.

This article was originally published on the Daily Caller News Foundation.