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How Much Does California Value Its Immigrants?

Posted on Mar 7, 2017

  From left: Communications coordinator Sarah Wesley, labor rights professor Victor Narro, Editor in Chief Robert Scheer and Managing Editor Eric Ortiz.

With Donald Trump in the Oval Office, many Americans see California as a progressive haven.

The state made headlines when Gov. Jerry Brown announced he had hired Eric Holder, the attorney general under President Obama, as legal counsel against potential Trump administration policies. And California’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, has been outspoken in denouncing many of Trump’s moves.

Now, California officials are scrambling to provide protection for those who may be swept up in the administration’s crackdown on undocumented immigration.

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Victor Narro, project director of the UCLA Labor Center, joined the Truthdig team Thursday to discuss the legality of “sanctuary cities” and how Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and the L.A. Police Department could expand progressive, pro-immigrant policies. Narro also shed light on the economic arguments surrounding undocumented immigration and related issues in diverse cities like Los Angeles. Watch the discussion below:


“California pushback” against the Trump administration “is what is going to save us,” says Scheer. Narro agrees, adding that the state “is leading the way” and the next few months will be “critical.”

“California is the adult in the room” when it comes to immigration policy, Narro says. He also discusses economic factors around immigration, explaining that most undocumented immigrants are not eligible for many public benefits.

“If you want to address the issue of exploitation, it’s not deportation, it’s enforce labor standards,” Narro declares. “If you really want to create an equal playing field, you would enforce labor standards.”

Los Angeles, home to one of the largest populations of undocumented immigrants in the country, has been declared a sanctuary city by Garcetti. Police Chief Charlie Beck has announced that under a 1979 police mandate known as Special Order 40, the LAPD will not assist in immigration enforcement.

Some, however, question whether California is really creating the legal structure needed to protect the undocumented. While it’s easy to adopt the sanctuary city label, some critics say, cities like Los Angeles should be taking more concrete steps to resist Trump’s enforcement actions.

Watch past editions of “Live at Truthdig” here.

—Posted by Emma Niles

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