On Wednesday, the Vanguard, the Davis Phoenix Coalition and the Human Relations Commission held a forum, which I moderated, on the Davis Sanctuary City. Part of the reason why I wanted to participate is because there is a lot of confusion as to what a sanctuary city does – and frankly, there is a huge difference between the governance structure in Davis versus San Francisco.
San Francisco is a city and county in a single boundary and as a result has a very different structure than Davis. Therefore, the city and council jointly create policy, such as not holding undocumented inmates in jail at the request of ICE – and this is the part everyone misses – UNLESS the detainer request is accompanied by a judge’s order.
Davis does not have a jail, it is not the county seat, and therefore it has no policy related to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) holds. Davis’ sanctuary city status is much more limited. All Davis’ law says is that “the City of Davis supports a fair and just reform to the immigration process, where local funds and resources are not used to enforce federal immigration laws, and where the Davis Police Department has actively committed not to seek out and persecute individuals within the city limits because of their documented status.”
As I pointed out in a comment yesterday, and as Davis Police Chief Darren Pytel pointed out on Wednesday, Davis’ law actually lines up with current state law under the Trust Act. The city police enforce state laws, not federal ones. ICE has jurisdiction over federal laws, and nothing would prevent them from coming into Davis and raiding someone’s home (as they did back in 2011).
But under the Trust Act, particularly AB 4 authored by former San Francisco Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, California “[p]rohibits a law enforcement official from detaining an individual on the basis of a United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) hold after that individual becomes eligible for release from custody, unless specified conditions are met.”
In other words, state law would actually preclude the police from doing the very thing our sanctuary city resolution also precludes.
But the commenters on the Enterprise site don’t seem to understand state law here. One writes, “This PC insanity has got to stop! Davis should be disqualified from any Federal funds!” Another adds, “Our p/c whipped police chief decides which laws he will enforce — or not. Gee, makes me feel a whole lot safer. Cut off the federal funding to the Davis PD and the rest of the city.”
The reality is that it seems unlikely that the federal government is going to cut off federal funding to Davis. They would probably have to cut off federal funding to the entire state of California – which Davis, changing its status, wouldn’t prevent.
It seems more likely that a Trump administration would want to target places like San Francisco and Los Angeles, which are directing their jails not to honor ICE holds without a judge’s order – a far bigger deal than the police deal.
Of course when I pointed this out, I was told, “Why don’t you and those like you go find another Country to destroy?!”
Some on here have argued, if there is any possibility of our status impacting federal funding, why take a chance?
There are multiple answers to that. The first is that right now, we are arguing in the abstract. At some point the Trump administration will clarify what it intends to do.
As Robb Davis and Lucas Frerichs pointed out, “To date, the President-elect has not defined what he means by a sanctuary city, nor by what method, or in relation to which funds, he intends to act. Nor, frankly, is it clear what the President’s latitude is in this regard.”
At some point we will have an idea if federal funding is actually threatened. My guess is that that at that point Davis can see if their intent threatens money – if it actually does, then there will be a debate over whether Davis should forgo that money or whether it should change its status.
There will be people who argue that we cannot afford to lose millions and those who will argue that our values are more important than those millions.
I will probably side on the side of giving up the money to adhere to our values. However, as I have said, I don’t believe Davis’ law actually will cause it problems.
Again, I think San Francisco is likely to be targeted and, if Davis is targeted for following state law, then the entire state will be targeted and therefore it won’t matter what Davis does.
But I think our commitment goes further than that. To me, this is about our commitment to civil rights and supporting those in our community who feel persecuted and vulnerable.
School Board Member Madhavi Sunder summed up these thoughts nicely.
Madhavi Sunder noted that students “are feeling targeted in the current social climate.” She said, “I wanted to speak personally to the students who are afraid. Some students are afraid for themselves – because they might be targeted for hate speech or discrimination or even threatened with violence. Others are afraid for their parents, their aunts, their cousins – who they fear might be subjected to deportation.”
Mayor Robb Davis and Councilmember Lucas Frerichs wrote yesterday that “it is our shared desire that for those who live here in peace, and who contribute in so many meaningful ways to our local and national economy, to find respite in the current uncertainty occasioned by the recent national election. Offering them these guarantees helps to assure they will engage with local law enforcement if they are the victims of crime, rather than eschew participation for fear of being deported.”
Finally some have characterized the post-election fears and atmosphere as “hysteria” that remains ongoing.
People tend to react with fear when words are used to incite anger and hatred with the possible consequence of loss of liberty or even expulsion from the place they call home. As Robb Davis said a few days after the election, “those fears are justified.”
He said, “I cannot—we cannot—succumb to those fears.” But he added, “[M]ake no mistake, words have consequences and words were spoken, not by accident, not with a slip of the tongue, but words were spoken during this campaign with meaning, with intent and those words have consequences. And the consequences for us today are that we have legitimate fear within our community. We have to acknowledge that.”
It is nearly a month and a half after those words were spoken, but what has changed to decrease that fear? Have we been offered reassurance? I haven’t seen it.
Bottom line, the Davis Sanctuary City status is not likely to imperil its federal funding, but it is a statement about this community’s values.
—David M. Greenwald reporting