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Immigrants, Zombies & SB54

Updated: Nov 12, 2018

In a sweeping largely symbolic 5-0 vote the city council of Santa Clarita decided to formally oppose California’s 'sanctuary' law, SB 54, making it the first city in L.A. County to do so.

Really, Santa Clarita?

As a former Santa Clarita resident whose family still lives there, this hits home. To think that previously the only grudge I had against you was your oppressive summer heat waves, endless list of casual dining chains and that weird Netflix show about your zombie diets. Now all you have going for you is Six Flags Magic Mountain and Mom. No offense mom.

But some people felt differently about the recent decision. Good ‘ol Tweetin’ Trump had this to say: “I want to congratulate the City of Santa Clarita for their 5-0 vote against SB-54. Let’s Make California Great Again one city at a time…”

…by getting rid of all the brown people, tearing apart their families and making them pay for the wall bigly.

Ok, maybe that last part was an “alternative” quote, but it’s pretty consistent with the message that 45 has been regurgitating over and over.

While SB 54 does limit cooperation by local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities, it does not prevent them from working with ICE when an undocumented person has committed a violent crime or any number of crimes included on a list of 800 possibilities.

This is interesting considering the very foundation for the arguments opposed to SB 54 have to do with the objection over the state allowing violent criminals to remain in the country.

I wonder where could this blatant misconception possibly have come from?

Let’s stick with the main argument against SB 54: the idea that limiting cooperation between local law enforcement and ICE would promote criminality. Because immigrants are mostly bringing drugs, crime, a resurgence of the Black Plague and the zombie apocalypse to the U.S.

This implies that increased immigrant population growth is linked to increased criminal activity. Yet a study in 2015 by the National Academy of Sciences shows that immigrants are, in fact, much less likely to commit crime than native-born citizens, and that the presence of large numbers of immigrants seems to actually lower crime rates. This was a non-profit study funded by the federal government, and several other recent studies have shown similar findings.

March 2017 study by the libertarian Cato Institute: "Illegal immigrants are 44% less likely to be incarcerated than natives. Legal immigrants are 69% less likely to be incarcerated than natives. Legal and illegal immigrants are underrepresented in the incarcerated population while natives are overrepresented.”

July 2015 report by the American Immigration Council: For Mexican men ages 18 to 39, the incarceration rate in 2010 was 2.8%, compared to 10.7% for native-born men in the same age group

It appears that the rhetoric of the ‘criminal immigrant’ does not align with the bulk of empirical research. So, what’s really going on here? Is there a reason why the members of the Santa Clarita city council and others to choose to ignore such evidence?

Meet Bob Kellar—a veteran councilman and four-time mayor of Santa Clarita, who once called himself a “proud racist” in 2010. During an anti-immigration rally, Kellar referred to a statement by Theodore Roosevelt that the U.S. has a place for only one flag and one language.

Bob Kellar, Mayor of Santan Clarita

Kellar said those remarks caused some people to accuse him of being racist, to which he replied: If believing in America causes people to think he's a racist, "then I'm a proud racist.”

And Kellar has stood by his comments through the years, refusing to issue any kind of apology for them with supporters on his side calling him a patriot and a great American.

Excuse me while I vomit.

Police and civic leaders throughout California have been working for years to establish trust and an ongoing relationship with immigrant communities. SB 54 is the result of those actions. It attempts to let immigrants know that unless they are criminals, they have nothing to fear from local law enforcement.

Turning local agencies into federal immigration police will make every immigrant, documented or not, think twice before reporting a crime, coming forward as a witness to a crime, or having anything to do with any federal, state, or local agency. For many supporters of SB 54, it comes down to whether you see local safety or removing undocumented immigrants as the higher priority.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, Santa Clarita, I love you, but you’re bringing me down.

Must be something in your diet.

Bob Kellar, while you mockingly take pride in your racism, those of us who believe that California should not give in to policies that elicit hatred and diviseness, will be sure to proudly voice our objections to them every step of the way.

Because when we stop viewing immigrants as human beings and all the complexities that come with that, we may as well start grinding up people’s body parts into blenders and turning each other into protein shakes like that weird Netflix show with your city’s name in the title suggests.

For everyone’s sake, I hope not.

Who’s hungry?

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