I hesitated going to the April 4, 2018 Escondido City Council Meeting where Item 12: Request for authorization to support filing of Amicus Curiae brief on behalf of City of Escondido in United States V. State of California Lawsuit. I knew it would be a very contentious meeting, filled with negative emotions on both sides. J. Harry Jones has written an excellent summary of the meeting and the preceding rally: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-escondido-sanctuary-20180405-story.html
As did David Ross:
In the end I went, and knowing it would be a very crowded meeting, I reached the chambers by 3:30 pm—an hour before the meeting began, joining a very dear Latina friend. As the chamber filled, I did a bit of visiting with old friends, and met a few new people. On returning to my seat, my old friend had been joined by a young Latina, whom she knew. We spoke of the overwhelming majority of Latinos in the audience, when the noisy, anti-immigrant Trumpers entered with their red-white-and blue raiment and MAGA hats, and took up a section near the front, directly between the TV cameras and the podium.
By this time, the chambers were filling up, and a stray female anti-immigrant sat down in a single open seat in front of us. She turned to us and said something really bizarre. “You are traitors. Did you fight in the Revolution?”
I immediately took umbrage and said “My great, great, grandfather…” when she interrupted me saying, “I was not addressing you.” Well, silly me. I’m very much a paleface, she, of course would not have accused another Anglo of being a traitor. My old friend said that her father had fought for this country in WWII, and then wisely decided that the prudent action would be to end this interaction, and she did. But that pretty much destroys the myth that this entire immigration argument is not about ethnicity.
Unemployed Torrance resident, and self-appointed leader of the resistance to California’s Values Act, Arthur Schaper, spoke first under Item 9: Support of the reducing crime and keeping California Safe Act of 2018. (He spoke again under Item 12.) Trump was the best president ever, the most pro-life—defunding Planned Murderhood, strong defender of the Second Amendment, and was fighting California’s lawless legislation. Coal is alive he avowed, and the porn star suing Trump was so ugly, no one would want her company. He seems to aspire to be as obnoxious a jerk as his idol. You can read more info about his idiocies here: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-arthur-schaper-trump-conservative-20170603-htmlstory.html .
Before the discussion about SB 54 began, Councilwoman Olga Diaz read from the city’s conduct of municipal business code, which specifically states that the Council should not make decisions about matters that did not directly affect the municipal operations of the city. To make a decision about a Federal/State matter was not within the purview of the council’s duties. To continue with the matter would violate their own rules. Her objections fell on the deaf ears of her colleagues.
After City Attorney Michael McGuiness explained what the Amicus Brief filing was, Diaz took issue with his comparing the federal suit against SB 54 to the federal suit against Arizona’s SB1070, explaining that in that case, as in the case of Escondido’s infamous rental ordinance, the State of Arizona, like the City of Escondido were taking more authority to act on immigration matters, than was practiced by the Federal government. The courts had found both these actions unconstitutional. In the case of SB 54, the California was limiting federal authority, not giving the state more—an entirely different action.
Paul McNamara began the public discussion by pointing out that the matter was beyond the scope of the city council, they were not going to solve the immigration problem. They should concentrate on city issues rather than national ones. This action would not make a bit of difference in the outcome of the lawsuit and was a xenophobic waste of taxpayer money on staff time.
The supporters of the action had many fantasy arguments. Illegal immigrants cost $23 Billion a year, 68,000 were murdered by illegal immigrants, illegal immigrants were the largest population in the jails, 26 Americans die every day due to illegal immigrants, they cost $135 billion. Most of these poorly informed folks were from out of town or out of state.
Opponents pointed out that study after study showed that the crime rate among immigrants, regardless of legal status, was lower than among natural citizens. Several argued that the only purpose of the motion was to get the anti-immigrant voters riled up to vote for Mayor Sam Abed, Councilman John Masson, and Councilman Ed Gallo in the November election. One young high school student quoted Abed’s hero, Ronald Reagan on amnesty for immigrants. Others pointed out that immigrants take jobs that no one else would work.
The bright spot of the evening, for me, was the wonderful testimony of young high school Latino students. They bravely plead their case, and condemned the actions that tore families apart. Their courage gives me hope.
Councilman Mike Morasco began the Council discussion by asking that Mayor Sam Abed and Councilman John Masson explain why they had put the item on the agenda.
Abed read a prepared statement with his usual harangue about the core of his mission was to keep Escondido safe, and that since 2010, the Escondido Police Dept. working with ICE had deported more than 2,000 criminal illegal aliens, reducing crime by 33%. But, the awful state laws, AB 109, and AB 450 had turned prisoners loose, creating the homeless problem. He proposed the strange theory that SB 54 puts non-criminal immigrants at greater risk of being detained by ICE because it limits the cooperation between ICE and the Escondido Police. The fact that the Trump administration has doubled down on enforcement, according to Abed, is not the reason that more raids are being carried out by ICE. Abed then stated his real issue. A year ago he had promised Governor Jerry Brown that he would sue the state if AB 54 became law. Now he was fulfilling that hubristic promise. Well, sort of. As McGuiness pointed out, an Amicus Brief is not really suing.
Masson echoed Abed’s public safety sermon, and insisted that he had sworn to uphold the Constitution, and was doing so in protesting the unconstitutional SB 54—Sacramento overreach! He was not, he insisted, racist or xenophobic. The people who called him such things did not know him. He was going to be building schools in Mexicali with his Rotary groups soon. “If you guys want to make it about division, go ahead.” But, he didn’t get any of that.
Councilman Ed Gallo continued with the upholding the Constitution theme. He had received many more emails for this action than against. He went on to assert that he was Latino, as was Morasco, because they were of Latin descent. (Italian?) He added a strange bit that anyone who was of Spanish, French, or Italian descent were Latinos. Now the Brazilians, he said, were not, because they spoke Portuguese.
Morasco reiterated the “nothing to do with race” chorus. Like Masson, he referred to his charity work—his in South America. He read the oath of office he had taken. AB 54 was an anti-Trump move by the state. He was frustrated by the state. AB 450 was taking away his rights as a businessman. The one thing he didn’t understand, was why, if an immigrant had been in the country for many years, they didn’t become citizens? That statement was met by a spontaneous sputtering of incredulity from the audience majority.
Diaz bemoaned having to deal with this issue since 2006. The words she had heard, hurt, but she had reached a point where she was becoming numb to the continued attacks. The action proposed by Abed and Masson would have zero effect on anything. There had always been unjust laws in the USA, and the immigration system was broken. But, she said, the whole reason that Abed had made this action was now clear to her—he had promised to sue Governor Brown if AB 54 became law. It was a question of Abed’s ego. However, the large participation by Latinos that night had given her the fuel to go on. The entire exercise was a waste of time. She felt that apologies were needed for the horrible expense of time and money.
And so the fruitless item was passed, “four yes votes, Diaz voting no.” Abed and Masson may have been successful in riling up the voters—but perhaps not the voters they had in mind.