Avaaz Supports California's Resistance To Recent Travel Ban

When news of President Donald Trump's travel ban reached California, legislators quickly drafted a new bill to limit state and local law enforcement's participation in deportations. On Tuesday, the bill overcame its first obstacle when San Francisco sued President Trump for his executive order to cut off funding for what he called sanctuary cities and pushed for a travel ban that blocks thousands of refugees. The San Francisco City Attorney said that the executive order was both un-American and unconstitutional.

The San Francisco Lawsuit

From the federal budget, San Francisco receives $1.2 billion annually. Also, the state of California relies on over $100 billion from the federal budget. While California lawmakers stand to lose a considerable portion of the state's funding, they said that extending sanctuary policies is more important. In the lawsuit, the city of San Francisco claims that the executive order is unconstitutional and results in a severe invasion of the city's sovereignty. Additionally, the suit states that all people who reside in the city are safer when everyone feels secure reporting crimes regardless of whether they live there legally or illegally.

Effects On Law Enforcement

Senate Bill 54 proponents said that combining front-line law enforcement with immigration law enforcement would only make the front-line officers suffer. Most California cities already have a shortage of officers, and putting them on a task force to handle immigration issues would likely lead to higher nonviolent and violent crime rates in the cities. Senate Bill 54 requires law enforcement officials to abstain from asking about a person's citizenship status or immigration information. Also, it would prevent them from holding an individual for federal agents unless there is a warrant. There are several other applicable restrictions. Although multiple law enforcement groups and GOP members criticized Senate Bill 54, the committee passed it.

Limitations Of The Bill

Although California officers will not be responsible for immigration law enforcement, lawmakers pointed out that the bill will not block federal agents from doing their jobs. One example that was cited was arrests in California. When someone is charged with a crime, that individual's fingerprints are taken at the time of booking. The fingerprints are automatically sent to the Department of Homeland Security. When agents receive information about the arrest, they may still deport someone who is not a legal citizen.

For those who criticize the bill on the grounds of it possibly allowing more criminals to stay, this is a good example of why that idea is a misconception. While there were mixed opinions voiced from different state and local law enforcement groups, many agreed that local law enforcement officers should not be spending time on enforcing immigration policies and tearing families apart. One representative cited an example of a gentleman who was driving in Long Beach with his son. The two were stopped for a nonworking headlight. The father was arrested and deported for not being a legal citizen. The son had to drop out of school and start working to support his family.

Avaaz Steps In To Help

Avaaz works with the Organization for Friendship in Diversity to help migrants adjust. The organizations offer language tutoring, education and awareness services as well as learning play for children. The two organizations are seeking compassionate and motivated individuals to volunteer. After signing up, volunteers have the opportunity to mentor asylum seekers, migrants and refugees. From teaching English to sharing cultural experiences, there are many rewarding opportunities to work with children or adults. Interested volunteers can learn more at Avaaz.org.

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