Trump faces defiance in Bay Area, California over deportation plans – Marin Independent Journal
To achieve his goal of deporting two to three million immigrants with criminal records, President-elect Donald Trump would have to go after hundreds of thousands of people in California, including some with green cards who have minor convictions on their records, immigration and legal experts say.
High in hyperbole but short on details, Trump’s plan raises many more questions than it answers, but immigrant advocates are girding for a crisis, urging potential deportees to meet with lawyers now and make “safety plans.”
And perhaps nowhere in the country would the plan meet more resistance than California and the Bay Area, where state and local leaders say they will defy Trump’s demands that they drop so-called “sanctuary” policies or face cuts in federal aid.
It is unclear how a Trump Administration would identify the “criminal records, gang members, drug dealers” that Trump told 60 Minutes in his first post-Election interview would be rounded up. But to reach those numbers, Trump would have to step up enforcement by targeting legal permanent residents with low-level offenses along with hard-core lawbreakers, people with knowledge of the deportation system said.
“We are talking about a grandmother who might have been caught with a single marijuana plant once,” said Elisa Della-Piana, the San Francisco legal director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, a non-profit that works in poor and immigrant communities. “He’s cutting with a really broad stroke. It’s causing a great amount of fear that families will be torn apart.”
Federal law already allows the deportation of legal permanent residents with even minor convictions, such as possessing a small amount of drugs, or petty theft, said UC Berkeley law professor Leti Volpp.
Even before Trump, “there has been a lot of criticism of how the criminal grounds (for deportation) have broadened over time, sweeping in minor offenses,” said Volpp, who specializes in immigration law.
A Department of Homeland Security report between 2011-13 found that about 1.9 million legal and illegal immigrants across the U.S. had committed crimes that qualified for deportation proceedings. The Immigration Policy Institute, a pro-immigration Washington think tank, estimated in a 2015 report there are about 820,000 illegal immigrants with serious criminal records.
And President Barack Obama was widely criticized by immigration advocates as “Deporter In Chief” after his first term when deportations rose to record levels of more than 400,000 immigrants in 2012. But the Obama Administration softened its approach, dramatically cutting deportations in his second term under policies that protected millions of children brought to the country illegally and many of their parents.
The Pew Research Center estimates about 2.4 million illegal immigrants live in California, where they can obtain driver’s licenses and social services while living under sanctuary policies in communities that don’t question their immigration status.
“We are more committed than ever to being a sanctuary city and making sure our residents know that this is a protection we will defend,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, a sentiment echoed by mayors and county leaders across the Bay Area.
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom joined student protesters in calling for all UC, CSU and community colleges to be designated “sanctuary campuses” where students “can pursue a higher education without fear of Mr. Trump’s proposed deportation force.”