Fullerton harshes OC’s anti-immigrant buzz.


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This person – Jennifer Fitzgerald – was the only Fullerton councilmember to support Trump over her town’s immigrants.

What had been looking like an unstoppable juggernaut of OC cities rushing to join Trump’s lawsuit against California’s sanctuary status – starting unexpectedly in tiny Los Alamitos, growing through Aliso Viejo, Huntington Beach, and the County itself – sputtered to at least a slowdown Tuesday night in educated Fullerton, where after hearing from over 100 immigrant supporters and half a dozen out-of-town hardliners, council voted 3-1-1 to receive-and-circular-file the motion.  [I’ve heard that today, Friday April 6, was the last chance for a city to join in on Trump’s anti-California suit.]

Bruce, Greg

It was a relief – given that this whole thing’s really a nakedly partisan wedge issue – to see two Fullerton Republicans refuse to board the train – Greg Sebourn joining the two Democrats’ vote to receive and file, and Bruce Whitaker (who was originally the second for the motion) quietly abstaining.  The only member left supporting the measure was Curt Pringle employee Jennifer Fitzgerald, which surprised me as her boss (at least through his closest Anaheim ally Kris Murray) has been seeming to promote a kinder gentler kleptocracy, one that even spoke out against Trump in 2016; but it did exhume old memories of Pringle’s racist Santa Ana Poll Guards controversy of 1988.

We of course appreciate the votes of Doug and Jesús, but we expect Democrats to vote in favor of immigrant rights.  I had to ask Greg and Bruce their reasons though.  The comments by both men at the meeting were vague and led listeners to expect them to vote the opposite way – they both emphasized their concern for law and order, federal supremacy over immigration, and Sacramento’s “constitutional overreach.”  But Greg told me he was really moved by hearing from so many Fullerton immigrants that he knows and thinks highly of as “valuable upstanding residents,” and concerned about the cost, and unconvinced this was a burning Fullerton issue.  Bruce simply texted me that he was “frustrated at how amplified and angry the partisan polarization is now.”  

And both men have received plenty of nasty phone calls and messages, from angry fellow Republicans, since their votes.

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Trump-right jackass Schaper snarling at Lou Correa.

I’m told different things, by different Republicans I know, about exactly who’s been driving this anti-Sanctuary pro-Trump movement.  OC GOP insider and immigration hardliner Tim Whitacre swears that it’s a “grass roots” thing, just regular folks out there who’ve had enough of Sacramento’s arrogance and lawlessness, and want to take their country back again!  Funny, most of these “grass roots” people look pretty familiar, and are generally from out of town – that whole little “We the People Rising” crowd that tags along with Torrance’s foul-mouthed, MAGA-hat-wearing Arthur Schaper, who told the Board of Supervisors last week that Mexicans were making California “a shithole.”

Shawn Steel & wife, greeting the Big Man at LAX last month.

But I believe OTHER Republican friends of mine who characterize it as a hyper-partisan wedge-issue campaign driven by the California Republican Party and specifically longtime power broker Shawn Steel, husband of dingbat OC Supervisor Michelle.   Like the “In God We Trust” movement of 2008-9 and the stupid “Rule of Law City” movement 0f 2010, Shawn and other GOP leaders are gambling that enough OC Republicans backing Trump on immigration will bring out the knuckle-dragging base in the crucial upcoming elections.  Well, we’ll see about that.  But in any case a Republican politician who doesn’t play along is probably looking at some punishment coming down the pike.

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The folks evolving into the spokesmen of the OC anti-sanctuary movement, the ones who get the most press, like new FOX News star HB Mayor Mike Posey (right), evince great messaging discipline, almost suggesting their big passionate movement has nothing to do with immigration or even crime, but simply a concern over “constitutional overreach” by the state.  Oh, come now.  Latinos and liberals know perfectly well what it’s all about.  How many people or politicians join up in a passionate movement over simple constitutional disagreements?  There’s always something really motivating that.  In this case there are three bogus but powerful motivations, and in reverse order we’ll dispense of them:

#3.  An exaggerated worry about “releasing criminal illegals back into our communities,” commensurate with listening to Trump uncritically.  People stoking these fears never tire of bringing up the freak, tragic story of Kate Steinle’s accidental shooting as though that were typical of anything, and ignoring the Steinle family’s wish for them to stop using her as a political football.  But anyone who really wants the facts should read this handy primer – under SB 54 there are STILL over 800 crimes for which local authorities can still alert ICE that an undocumented criminal is about to be released.  And the connection between immigration (illegal or not) and crime is also bogus, as this NY Times piece explains:

from the NY Times

#2.  Okay, so it’s not REALLY about crime per se.  Folks who are excited about helping facilitate Trump’s deportations (or frustrated at any obstacle to that) may eventually admit at least to themselves that they’re tired of looking at immigrants, especially Mexicans.  To not sound racist, they couch that in OVER-concern about Mexican-looking people’s legal status.  They’ve probably even convinced themselves that more Mexicans than ever are streaming over our border, and we are on the verge of losing the very white-skinned English-speaking essence of our Republic!  Well, rational talk is quaint these days, but maybe another graph would help:

#1.  “Fine, maybe illegal immigration is not actually on the rise, and SB 54 will not make Californians less safe, and we admit the balance of powers between state and feds in the Constitution makes us kinda yawn, but … this WILL help get more folks out to vote Republican in June and November, won’t it?”  I don’t know.  Don’t they say that those who refuse to learn the lessons of Prop 187 are doomed to repeat it?  Or something along those lines?

Senator Kevin De León, our choice over Dianne Feinstein for California Senator as well as the author of SB 54, chastised these OC Republicans well:

“The county that gave us Prop 187 more than two decades ago is at it again with another unconstitutional attack on our immigrant communities.  I am confident the courts will reject this challenge to SB 54, just as they roundly rejected Prop 187.

“This kind of obsessive immigrant bashing is embarrassing to the county and its residents, and seems designed to court the approval of a racist President and his cronies.

“‘Blue’ and ‘progressive’ we may be, but these repeated efforts to portray hardworking immigrants as criminals are a repulsive, black stain on California’s history.”

Thank you Fullerton and Santa Ana!

Oh, did I mention:  And the people rejoiced!

Except for the ones who didn’t.

Now it’s your Weekend Open Thread.

Speak up, we can’t hear you!


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.