Sanctuary City or Police Neutering?




The election of Donald Trump to the highest office in the land is a reality with which some in the United States still need to come to terms. Indeed, the smooth execution his impending inauguration has already been threatened by more than a handful of protest groups.It seems that everyone with a mind to is finding ways to stymie President Elect Trump’s agenda before he even takes office. Across the country, cities and municipalities have been preparing for all the potential threats, real or imagined, a Trump Administration could possibly direct their way. It is a kind of collective hysteria that is prompting legislative bodies of all sizes and levels of influence to enact as many laws and ordinances as possible before his swearing in January 20th.

The hysteria seems to have reached us a well. Here in Orange County’s second largest city, and the county seat no less, the city council of Santa Ana has decided to preempt action on one of the main issues highlighted by Trump’s primary and general election bid — Illegal immigration. On January 17th, they formally approved the sanctuary ordinance that was first introduced in the month that followed Trump’s election. The unanimous vote legally codified the sanctuary city policies that were all but standard practice in the city leading up to this point.

Now, let me say first and foremost that I understand why you did this. California has a large hispanic population — roughly 38% of the overall citizenry. Santa Ana has an even larger percentage of hispanic citizens — about 78% according to the the information I’ve found. The OC Register reports that 46% of Santa Ana’s residents are immigrants, though they don’t specify the status of those immigrants or where they get that figure. It’s gotten to the point with me that when a politician says the word “immigrant,” they’re inevitably referring to the undocumented kind. Illegal if you’re nasty.

So I get it, Santa Ana City Council. I do. These are your constituents. Well, in a manner of speaking. The illegal ones can’t vote, so you technically don’t need to worry about them voting you out of office, but they do live within your borders. They are your neighbors, your friends, your family. You want to do right by them. You want to protect them. You want to ensure they live a long, safe, and deportation-free life. That’s admirable. I can sympathize with the original intent of the ordinance. It kind of made sense, albeit in a somewhat desperate and almost patronizing way.

But then you went and caved to public pressure. You got rid of the part of the ordinance that allowed your police department to exercise its own discretion when dealing with criminal aliens. It is now against the law for the Santa Ana police department to contact federal authorities when they encounter, arrest, or otherwise detain a criminal alien within the sanctimonious borders of their own city. And that’s what the city council officially adopted earlier this week.

I will never understand why a city, any city, would want to protect the immigration status of a person convicted of a felony. Or multiple felonies. One would think the citizens of Santa Ana would want to remove such negative influences on their fine city. If the intent of the law is protect the law-abiding undocumented residents of Santa Ana, then why would it also seek to protect the criminal element of the same group with the same enthusiasm? Is deportation such an abhorrent thing that the citizens of Santa Ana can’t even stomach deporting criminals?

Where is the line? Is there even a line anymore? I sure hope there is. I also hope this same insanity doesn’t spread to other cities in Orange County. Police should have the discretion to deal with criminal aliens in a way that makes sense. If they choose to release an illegal alien guilty of a misdemeanor, fine. Good. That’s their decision. They obviously don’t think that person is a threat to the community and should not be removed. However, they should be allowed to make that decision. They should be allowed to contact federal authorities if they deem it appropriate. City councils should not take that discretionary authority away from police departments.

City ordinances should not be drafted based on strong emotions after an unwanted election outcome. Donald Trump is a buffoon, yes, but that doesn’t mean the Santa Ana city council has to match his buffoonery with their own.

About Sean Cocca

Born and raised in Orange County, Sean graduated from CSULB with a degree in Journalism -- something he has tried (and failed) to exorcise from his life. He resides in North OC. He's grown far more politically independent over the years and staunchly refuses to join a political party. Follow him on twitter @NPPinCA.