Federal Opinion

‘California, Trump on Collision Course’

By Charles Taylor Kerchner — November 15, 2016 4 min read
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I borrowed the headline from the Los Angeles Times because it captured the essence of the reaction to Tuesday’s election as reported in news outlets throughout the state.

Immigration policy is the first flash point. California has some of the most liberal policies in the country. Undocumented immigrants can get driver’s licenses, health insurance, and in-state tuition at public colleges. And the idea of mass roundups of undocumented residents, as Trump promised, is facing massive protests in the state.

On Monday, Los Angeles Police Department chief Charlie Beck said his department would continue its policy of prohibiting officers from initiating contact with someone only to determine their immigration status. The department has also stopped turning over people for low-level crimes and from honoring federal requests to detain inmates who might be deportable. Beck said he had no plans to change LAPD’s stance under the Trump administration.

Last Thursday, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez led a prayer service in which he assured that the Catholic Church will continue to support immigrants in the country illegally. The Times story contains a photo of Gomez embracing Eric Garcetti, the Jewish mayor of Los Angeles.

Other denominations voiced similar determination. On Sunday, Mike Kinman, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, was greeted with a standing ovation from his congregation after preaching: “This very room will be your sanctuary and we will stand between you and those who will do you harm.”

California is home to approximately 500,000 youth and young adults covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which Trump promised to reverse despite its cruelty. New Yorker writer Dana Goodyear writes of their tears and fears. “I would be back to zero,” said one college student.

Gov. Jerry Brown was pictured on the Sacramento Bee web site saying that, “we need to build a wall around the state to protect us from the other states,” to which he quickly added that he was being facetious. But Los Angeles County Democratic Party chairman Eric Bauman called on Brown and the legislature to build a legal wall “to keep our residents safe from the grim and cynical vision that Donald Trump has laid out for America.”

“Rough and Tumble,” a news aggregation service, carries headlines of protests in several cities, an uptick in verbal abuse and hate speech in public places, and the slew of lawsuits facing the President elect, including the litigation over Trump University, which Trump’s lawyers want to delay.

In Los Angeles, students plan school walkouts, and the Los Angeles Police Department issued an advisory to parents to urge their children to engage in peaceful behavior.

William Perez studies and writes about the DREAMers, including the DACA protected. I ask him what this weekend’s protests signaled. “I think what we are seeing is definitely more than a momentary reaction,” Perez, a Claremont Graduate University professor, compared the current protests to those in the last decade against punitive immigration measures, and said:

“The difference is that now there is a large grassroots infrastructure in the form of a national network of high school and college student groups/clubs and “Dream Centers” that can facilitate large-scale mobilization in ways that were not possible even in 2010.”

“There is a reason why both Sanders and Clinton recruited DREAMer organizers for their presidential campaigns. Although they are young, they are seasoned veterans with many years of experience. As details emerge from the Trump administration regarding its immigration policies, you can expect a swift and large-scale response from immigrant youth, not just those that are undocumented, but also those in mixed-status families,” he wrote. (In earlier ‘On California’ columns [1] [2] [3], Perez wrote about how students that are returned to Mexico are effectively without a home in either country.)

The President-elect also departs radically from California on environmental policy. Gov. Brown and former GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzeneger signed dozens of environmental laws including smog regulations and cap and trade regulations. By 2030, state requires 50 percent of its electricity to come from renewable sources, such as solar and wind. Companies, like Tesla, whose business model depends on movement to environmental friendly energy, employ thousands of workers.

Ironically, some of Trump’s promised freedom from federal oversight in education plays into California’s support of alternatives to the test-and-punish policies promoted by the Obama Administration. But whatever comfort may be found in federal flexibility in education pales in significance when compared with the wall of difference between the state and the Trump Administration’s direction for the country.

Former Stanford University education dean and U.S. Education Department undersecretary Marshall Smith responded to a query saying: “The dramatic change in the federal government puts into great jeopardy our nation’s recent gains in civil rights and liberties and in the world’s struggle to reduce the potential effects of climate change.”

He continued, “In the absence of federal leadership, California has a moral obligation to our children and grandchildren to accelerate her efforts in both of these areas. We have the money and human capacity; all we need are the guts!”

The opinions expressed in On California are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.