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Thread: If California becomes a sanctuary state, this county will resist

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  1. #1
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    May 2006

    If California becomes a sanctuary state, this county will resist

    By Peter FimriteApril 9, 2017

    Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle El Dorado County Sheriff John D’Agostini says he will follow federal law even if the sanctuary state bill passes.

    PLACERVILLE, El Dorado County — Leaning back in his chair, his gold sheriff’s badge glinting in a shaft of light, John D’Agostini thought for a second about what he would do if Sacramento legislators imposed San Francisco-style sanctuary laws to protect people living across the state illegally.

    His dilemma is part of the complex immigration debate in California, where a bill passed last week by the state Senate would restrict cooperation with U.S. immigration agents everywhere, including not only liberal strongholds but bastions of conservatism like El Dorado County.

    To D’Agostini, the proposed law, SB54, is tantamount to coddling criminals, and that doesn’t wash in the historic Gold Rush towns and foothill hamlets he serves. He said he would simply refuse to go along.

    “I’m going to follow federal law on this issue,” said the sheriff from his office in Placerville, the county seat so closely associated with frontier justice that it was once known as Hangtown. “It’s concerning because its going to put me crosswise with state law.”

    The lawman has quite a few backers in the region’s former mining towns — people like George Turnboo, the owner of George’s Truck & Auto Repair in the town of El Dorado and a frequent candidate for local office. He said the sheriff should be allowed to help pick out the bad apples in the community for deportation, like President Trump says the country should do.

    “I have a lot of immigrants who are really good friends of mine, but a lot of them voted for Trump because they believe in doing the right thing — which is to immigrate legally,” said Turnboo, 63. “The problem is when immigrants commit horrible crimes and they release them into our community. That’s wrong.”

    Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle
    Mike Williams, a Vietnam War veteran who sells hot dogs to raise funds for homeless veterans in El Dorado, says “there’s something demented” about S.F. not turning over a man later accused of a killing to ...

    SB54, which still must be passed by the Assembly and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, would bar local law enforcement officers from enforcing immigration laws, including arresting and detaining people because they’re in the country without documentation. They couldn’t take part in federal investigations centered on immigration violations, either.

    Sheriffs who run jails would have to limit cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, though a late amendment to the bill would allow them to notify ICE before certain serious or violent felons are released.

    D’Agostini said his deputies have never gone out looking to make immigration arrests anyway, and he isn’t planning a crackdown. The law, he said, would mostly impact a handful of inmates who might be released every year from the El Dorado County Jail.

    To him, the point isn’t the numbers, but that no politician should be able to tell local law enforcement officers to withhold information about criminal activity from federal authorities.

    “I believe it’s not lawful,” D’Agostini said.

    The largely conservative county, which stretches from the growing Sacramento suburb of El Dorado Hills through the touristy Mother Lode region and into South Lake Tahoe along the route of the old Pony Express, gave Trump 52.6 percent of the votes in November, compared with 38.9 for Hillary Clinton.

    It’s one of several counties that may resist the sanctuary state bill, which was written by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, and squarely places California on a collision course with the White House.

    De León said Trump’s policies have caused so much fear in immigrant communities that people are afraid to report or testify about crimes, which hurts public safety, and even to take their children to school.

    State Sen. Scott Wiener, the San Francisco Democrat who co-wrote the bill, said D’Agostini is entitled to oppose it but “is obliged to follow it” if it passes.

    “The purpose of this bill is to make it very clear to our immigrant communities that interacting with law enforcement in California is not the same as interacting with immigration authorities,” Wiener said.

    But Vern Pierson, the El Dorado County district attorney, said the law’s restriction on most communication with immigration agents is dangerous.

    “There is no doubt we have a number of people in this country illegally who have committed crimes,” he said, “and those are the people SB54 seeks to protect.”

    Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle Shops and restaurants attract visitors to downtown Placerville.

    El Dorado County is nearly 80 percent white, while Latinos make up about 13 percent of the population. Many immigrants, some without legal status, work in vineyards and apple orchards in the hills around Placerville, where farmers are conflicted about immigration policy.

    “When you have confusion and over-the-top rhetoric, people’s perceptions can be tied to fear, and its already difficult enough to find skilled labor without making all the immigrants scared,” said Paul Bush, 50, co-owner with his wife, Maggie, of the 85-acre Madroña Vineyards in the hillside community of Camino.

    Ben Butler, the 55-year-old owner and chef at Bene Ristorante Italiano in downtown Placerville, said he too relies on authorized immigrant workers. Then again, he said, he understands the need for immigration authorities to deport people who commit crimes.

    “I struggle finding dishwashers,” said Butler, who, clad in his white chef’s smock, was greeting people outside his restaurant during lunch one recent day. “It’s a necessity to have immigrants, as long as there is a way to weed out the criminals.”

    Many county residents believe farm laborers should be left alone, and D’Agostini said he has no intention of going out to the vineyards, orchards or restaurants searching for people to bust. He said he is only concerned about those who commit crimes.

    Mike Williams, a Vietnam War veteran who was selling hot dogs in the town of El Dorado to raise money for homeless vets, was one of several locals who brought up Kathryn Steinle, the 32-year-old woman who was shot and killed in 2015 on San Francisco’s Embarcadero.

    The suspected gunman, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, was freed from jail weeks earlier by the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department, which rejected federal requests to turn him over for his sixth deportation under the city’s sanctuary laws.

    “There’s something demented about that,” said Williams, 65. “I wonder how Gov. Brown would feel if his wife or kids were killed by an illegal alien?”

    Supporters of sanctuary laws say incidents like the Steinle slaying are extremely rare, and shouldn’t be used to stir fear of immigrants who are in the country illegally. Studies over the last few decades have concluded there is either no correlation between immigration and crime, or a negative relationship.

    If the bill passes, D’Agostini foresees a showdown between Sacramento and the Trump administration, which has threatened to cut off Department of Justice grants to places with sanctuary policies.

    “I think its inevitable they are going to be at odds,” he said. The counties that defy SB54, he said, “will be the test bed for that case law, and I feel very confident federal law will prevail.”
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    Aug 2005
    But Sheriff, you know they all gotta go. We have a legal immigration program for farm workers. We even have H2A program for lower-skilled dishwashers they can use, but after they've made an honest sincere effort to hire Americans. There is no reason for any illegal immigration in the US. Not only are they cheating Americans, they're cheating legal immigrants too. They're cheating everybody.
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    A Nation Without Borders Is Not A Nation - Ronald Reagan
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