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In California, 'sanctuary' is like a Hollywood illusion

Ruben Navarrette Jr. on

On the one hand, federal agents have never respected local cops, or seen them as their equals. On the other, that doesn't stop them from letting lowly local cops do their work for them, so the G-Men (and G-Women) can sit around, drink coffee and brag about their pensions.

The sheriff's deputies who run the jails complained that they'll alert ICE when they're releasing a prisoner who might be in the country illegally, and that -- if he's a low-level offender -- they won't get a response. And then if that person commits a crime that gets media attention, ICE -- which specializes in CYA -- will blame the local officials.

So will the California sanctuary law make things better or worse? It's not likely to have much of an effect either way.

The media says that this is because fierce opposition from police and sheriff's groups forced lawmakers to negotiate and add a series of amendments that allow for some cooperation.

Could be. The author of the bill is state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, a Democrat who recently announced that he is running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by fellow Democrat Dianne Feinstein. I'm sure that de Leon didn't want to kick off his campaign by alienating law enforcement.

But the real reason for the amendments goes back to Gov. Brown, who is pure politics and who -- like Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama before him -- has no interest in being caricatured as a Democrat who is soft on immigration. He threatened to veto the bill if he didn't get the amendments, and he won that showdown.

Emphasis on "show." After all, California -- home to Hollywood -- is the grand factory of make-believe. So naturally, in the sanctuary debate, the focus is on theater. And nothing is what it seems.

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Ruben Navarrette's email address is ruben@rubennavarrette.com.

(c) 2017, The Washington Post Writers Group

 

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