California: A ‘Sanctuary' for Criminals
The state threw out the rule of law, but Orange County will join the resistance.
By Michelle Park Steel
I was born in South Korea and raised in Japan. My family moved to the U.S. when I was a teenager and worked through the legal immigration process. It was difficult and time-consuming, but we achieved our version of the American Dream - like the millions who came before us.
Today this system is being threatened as California moves closer to becoming a sanctuary state, with local law enforcement under order to disregard federal law and protect illegal aliens. That's why, as a member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, I voted to join a federal lawsuit against Senate Bill 54, the sanctuary law Gov. Jerry Brown signed last year.
The law prohibits state and local law-enforcement officials from informing federal authorities when an illegal alien who has committed a crime is being released from custody. Instead of protecting American citizens, politicians in Sacramento have prioritized the safety of alien criminals. They are provided privileges that American citizens don't receive - all while endangering innocent people.
California has already seen its share of unnecessary tragedies. It was the lack of partnership and communication between local and federal law enforcement that allowed a five-time deportee with multiple felony convictions to be released by a local sheriff's department. He went on to murder Kate Steinle, an innocent 32-year-old woman in San Francisco.
Yet many local leaders seem unconcerned. In February Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf warned illegal aliens of planned arrests by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Ms. Schaaf's political stunt endangered the public by allowing illegal aliens, many of whom had committed crimes, to avoid arrest, and it put at risk the safety of the federal officers conducting the raid.
In Orange County, we reject this kind of reckless behavior. As a member of the Board of Supervisors, I have a say in how to improve my community of 3.2 million residents. We are home to large groups of immigrant communities, and we fully embrace the diverse cultures of our immigrant population. Our concern is about criminal illegal aliens who are falling through the cracks because our sheriff can't talk to federal immigration agents.
On March 27 I introduced a resolution to condemn the state sanctuary law and to direct county counsel to take legal action. Every Orange County supervisor present voted in favor. We currently are reviewing the best ways in which to intervene in the federal government's lawsuit against California.
States cannot simply opt out of federal laws they don't like. If tomorrow California decided that the First Amendment was a nuisance and passed legislation to restrict this constitutional right, Americans wouldn't accept the new law.
I came to this country with a great respect for the freedom and safety that the Constitution affords its citizens. Condemning the sanctuary law has nothing to do with race or politics. It's about protecting Americans and their constitutional rights. There's a long road ahead in fixing our broken immigration system, but, along the way, local law enforcement should cooperate fully with the federal law.
Ms. Steel is an Orange County, Calif., supervisor.