Tag Archives: California

New Jersey Democrats push measures to protect illegal immigrants, vow to defy Trump

wisniewskiFrom Fox News: Sanctuary city advocates in one state with a Trump friendly Republican governor are digging in their heels in the face of President Trump’s threat to cut off federal funding.

Democratic lawmakers in New Jersey introduced bills this week calling on the state to reimburse so-called sanctuary cities that lose federal funding. And on Wednesday, Assemblyman John Wisniewski* introduced legislation designating New Jersey a “sanctuary state,” generally preventing law enforcement officers from initiating contact with immigration officials, and from using state resources for the purpose of enforcing immigration laws. *Wisniewski’s education includes a J.D. from Seton Hall University School of Law.

In addition, several towns that have significant immigrant populations have declared themselves sanctuaries, saying they will not reach out to immigration officials about illegal immigrants they arrest or provide a service to unless they are serious criminals or a national security threat.

“We are putting President Trump and his administration on notice,” said Wisniewski in written public announcement about his legislation. “New Jersey will not be a ‘willing partner’ to the unjustified and inhumane deportations of our neighbors and friends.” New York and California also have moved toward declaring their states sanctuaries for illegal immigrants.

Trump, who made cracking down on illegal immigration a cornerstone of his campaign, has issued executive orders and directives aimed at border security and tracking down and deporting undocumented people illegal aliens.

He directed the Department of Homeland Security to identify and publish a list of sanctuary communities. Although no strict definition of the term exists, it is generally used to describe communities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

The New Jersey measures have little chance of passing, given GOP resistance and Gov. Chris Christie’s veto threat, said Ross Baker, a Rutgers University professor of political science. “It’s more of a gesture to the immigrant community,” Baker told Fox News. “It’s a message to them that they would be protected against hypothetical actions by the federal government.”

In Maplewood, Mayor Victor DeLuca consulted with police administrators before crafting a sanctuary ordinance that became final at the end of January. DeLuca said police officials said they did not want the responsibility of enforcing federal immigration laws. “The police said ‘We don’t do it now,’” DeLuca told Fox News, “and there was a feeling on our part that wanted to make clear that there are distinctions between the role of the police department and the role of immigration officials.”

New Jersey has more than 500,000 illegal immigrants, according to estimates.

Republicans in the state legislature say they will not support sanctuary towns in any way. Christie, a Republican, says he will veto any legislation that would favor sanctuary cities.

Proponents of strict immigration enforcement say sanctuary communities are violating the law. “To have lawmakers in Trenton say ‘O.K., we’ll show the president, if they withhold funding, we’ll pay,’ is violating federal law,” said Ron Bass, founder of United Patriots of America, a New Jersey-based group that pushes for strict enforcement. “It’s like the state saying to sanctuary cities ‘You rob the bank, I’ll drive the [getaway] car.’”

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Fourth Muslim group rejects federal grant to fight extremism

jihad-turk

Jihad Turk: Has a vision to serve his community

You know what side they stand for when their Trump Derangement Syndrome tops any desire to fight extremism.

From Sacramento Bee: A California Islamic school wanted to keep an open mind before Donald Trump took office (yeah, riiiiiight). But less than a month into Trump’s presidency, the school rejected $800,000 in federal funds aimed at combatting violent extremism.

The decision made late Friday night by the Bayan Claremont graduate school’s board to turn down the money — an amount that would cover more than half its yearly budget — capped weeks of sleepless nights and debate. Many there felt Trump’s rhetoric singling out Islamic extremism and his travel ban affecting predominantly Muslim countries had gone too far.

It also made the school the fourth organization nationwide under the Trump administration to reject the money for a program created under President Barack Obama known as countering violent extremism, or CVE, which officials say aims to thwart extremist groups’ abilities to recruit would-be terrorists.

Bayan Claremont had received the second-largest grant, among the first 31 federal grants for CVE awarded to organizations, schools and municipalities in the dwindling days of the Obama administration. The school had hoped to use the money to help create a new generation of Muslim community leaders, with $250,000 earmarked for more than a dozen local nonprofits doing social justice work.

But the fledgling school’s founding president, Jihad Turk, said officials ultimately felt accepting the money would do more harm than good.

It’s “a heck of a lot of money, (but) our mission and our vision is to serve the community and to bring our community to a position of excellence,” Turk said. “And if we’re compromised, even if only by perception in terms of our standing in the community, we ultimately can’t achieve that goal,” he said, adding that accepting the funds would be short-sighted.

The school’s internal debate is also emblematic of handwringing among grassroots and nonprofit organizations involved in the program in the last couple weeks.

At Unity Productions Foundation of Potomac Falls, Virginia, officials said they would decline a grant of $396,585 to produce educational films challenging narratives supporting extremist ideologies and violent extremism “due to the changes brought by the new administration,” according to a private message to donors reviewed by The Associated Press.

And in Dearborn, Michigan, Leaders Advancing and Helping Communities said last week it was turning down $500,000 for youth-development and public-health programs because of the “current political climate.” Ka Joog, a leading Somali nonprofit organization in Minneapolis, also turned down $500,000 for its youth programs.

The Homeland Security Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

A U.S. official said the Trump administration has been discussing changing the Obama administration program’s name, established as a presidential strategy in 2011, to an iteration of “countering Islamic extremism.” The official, who has knowledge of the discussions, was not authorized to speak publicly about the proposal and spoke on condition of anonymity.

All told, more than 20 percent of the roughly $10 million awarded by the Homeland Security Department has been rejected (well, sounds like some savings for the tax payers). And other groups have signaled they may follow suit, should the name change.

Turk said school officials already had reservations about the CVE strategy under Obama because they felt there’s no clear or proven pathway to violence for someone with a particular extreme ideology. The group went ahead, despite worries by some activists that the program equated to a government surveillance program, because it believed the previous administration wasn’t hostile to their faith.

But amid what Turk called Trump’s “fixation on the American Muslim community,” it became clear that the president’s actions were more than campaign-trail rhetoric, he said. “It was becoming more and more apparent,” Turk said of Trump, “that he’s actually looking to carry out all the scary stuff he said.”

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160 arrested across southern California in immigration crackdown: 150 had criminal histories

liberals-and-illegal-aliens

And yet libtards are still upset with deporting illegal criminal aliens.

From CBS Los Angeles: Federal immigration officials say 160 people were arrested across the Southland over the past week during a crackdown targeting “criminal aliens, illegal re-entrants and immigration fugitives.”

The arrests took place in six counties during what U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials described as a “five-day targeted enforcement operation” that began Monday and wrapped up around noon Friday.

Of the 160 arrested, about 150 had criminal histories, while five more had either been previously deported or had “final orders of removal”. Many of those arrested had prior felony convictions for “serious or violent offenses” including child sex crimes and assault.

The arrestees – which were 95 percent male – included nationals from a dozen countries, according to ICE.

Immigration advocates said they fielded calls Thursday from immigrants and lawyers reporting raids at homes and businesses in the greater Los Angeles area, including Van Nuys, Downey, Oxnard, San Bernardino, and other cities.

Lawyer Karla Navarrete said Friday agents looking for one man arrested another who is in the country illegally but has no criminal record. Navarrete says she sought to stop the man’s deportation and was told by ICE that things had changed. She says another lawyer filed federal court papers to halt it.

Multiple reports on social media suggested similar raids were conducted in Atlanta, Austin, and other U.S. cities, but there was no immediate confirmation from federal officials.

A report released Thursday showed nearly one in five immigrants in the U.S. illegally live in either the Los Angeles or New York City metropolitan areas. The report released by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center estimates more than 2 million immigrants in the country illegally lived in the two areas in 2014.

Read the rest of the story here.

h/t Twitchy

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California considers an end to bail: ‘We’re punishing people simply for being poor’

rob-bonta

Proponent Assemblyman Rob Bonta

California: Where all decisions are now made under the interpretation of some fluid rules of “social justice.”

From Sacramento Bee: On any given day, most inmates in California jails have not yet been convicted of a crime. About 63 percent are being held awaiting trial, according to data collected by the Board of State and Community Corrections, an average of nearly 47,000 people. Federal statistics on the largest urban counties show that from 2000 to 2009, California kept unsentenced felony defendants in jail at nearly twice the rate of the rest of the country.

For state Sen. Bob Hertzberg, the problem is clear: Bail is “just too expensive.” The median amount in the state is $50,000, according to the Public Policy Institute of California, five times higher than the national average.

Too many Californians find themselves stuck in custody because they cannot afford to bail out, the Los Angeles Democrat said, a personal crisis that can ripple across their lives in dramatic ways.

“They can’t pay their rent. They can’t pay child support or take their kids to school. There’s so many other consequences to that,” Hertzberg said. “That isn’t patriotic. That isn’t American. That isn’t the right thing to do.”

With criticism mounting that it creates unequal justice based on wealth, California is rethinking monetary bail. Hertzberg and Assemblyman Rob Bonta are pursuing legislation this session to overhaul the practice, while Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye formed a working group in the fall to explore possible changes.

“The only nexus is between who gets out and who has money,” Bonta, a Democrat from Alameda, said. “We’re punishing people simply for being poor.”

Political interest in the issue has been surging nationally, with New Jersey and New Mexico recently eliminating bail for minor crimes. But any measure will likely face heavy opposition from bail bond agents, police officers and district attorneys who see the current system as integral to public safety.

Topo Padilla, president of the Golden State Bail Agents Association, said monetary stakes are the best way to ensure that someone appears in court after being released. “I can’t guarantee it either. But I have someone to back the game up. I have a co-signer,” he said. “And we do that at no cost to the taxpayers.”

California allows each county to set its own bail schedule by crime. In Sacramento, for example, rates range from $5,000 for possession of a controlled substance to $20,000 for resisting or deterring an officer to $1 million for sexual assault of a child.

Offenders can pay the entire amount, to be returned at the conclusion of their case, or apply for a surety bond through companies that charge a 10 percent fee. Those who cannot afford either option may ask a judge to adjust the amount based on factors such as their criminal history, the seriousness of the crime and their likelihood of showing up for their next court date.

It took David Howell 39 days and three requests for a bail reduction before he secured his release from the Sacramento County jail early last week.  In late December, the retired California Highway Patrol dispatcher was arrested on a charge of possession of a firearm while under a restraining order. He was stunned and “devastated” to find out that bail had been set at $200,000, twenty times the standard rate in Sacramento County for that misdemeanor.

At age 62, his only previous arrest had come in October, for a misdemeanor violation of the restraining order. He has disputed the allegations of domestic violence that prompted the order and his subsequent charges in court. Unable to afford the massive bail fee, Howell said, “I felt trapped.” For weeks, he could not take daily treatments for two eye conditions that are slowly making him blind.

Bail was eventually dropped to $100,000 and then, on Friday, to $15,000, in recognition of Howell’s short criminal history. After deliberating for two days about whether the money would be better spent on future legal costs and medical bills, he paid $1,500 for a commercial bail bond because fighting his case would be easier from outside jail.

“You feel like you’ve been thrown away. You feel like nothing,” Howell said. Despite his years in law enforcement, his faith in the fairness of the legal system is lost: “All the time I had been working in a dream world.”

Though Bonta and Hertzberg announced the bail overhaul as a legislative priority when the session began in December, nothing specific is proposed. Ideas have been floated to introduce risk assessment into the process, lower the schedule of bail rates or even do away with monetary bail altogether.

Consensus on a solution has not emerged, even among political allies. Hertzberg said he doesn’t mind the idea of someone bailing out of jail, as long as it is affordable, and his goal is not to put bail bond companies out of business.

Others working on the legislation, such as the American Civil Liberties Union of California, would like to see monetary bail eliminated. Legislative advocate Mica Doctoroff said the integrity of criminal justice is compromised when families have to pay a for-profit company to secure their loved ones’ freedom, potentially putting them into debt, even if the charges are later dropped. “You and your family can end up being forced to pay these fees for a crime you didn’t even commit,” she said.

The difficulties of mounting a defense from behind bars increase pressure on those who cannot post bail to simply accept a plea bargain and resolve their case, Doctoroff added. “Our existing money bail system has really driven justice and freedom further out of reach for far too many people in California, particularly low-income people and people of color.”

Read the rest of the story here.

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California lawmakers want third-gender option on IDs

genders

From Fox News: Democratic lawmakers on Thursday introduced a bill supporters say would make California the first state to add a third gender option on state identifying documents.

State Sen. Toni Atkins’ bill would add a non-binary gender marker option for driver’s licenses, birth certificates, identity cards and gender change court orders. The San Diego Democrat says SB 179 would also simplify the process for changing one’s gender on those documents.

Transgender people face discrimination in their everyday lives when they use IDs that do not match the gender they appear to be, Atkins said. The legislation would help transgender people and those who do not identify as either male or female to obtain official documents that match their gender identity, she said.

SB 179 would end the requirements that a person get a doctor’s sworn statement and appear in court even if no objections have been filed when petitioning to change their gender on official documents. The bill would also allow minors to apply for a gender change on their birth certificate.

This legislation would be the first of its kind in the country, said Jo Michael, who works with Equality California, a group that advocates for LGBT rights and is co-sponsoring Atkins’ bill.

“As a person who identifies as transgender and is non-binary, this piece of legislation is important to me on a personal level,” Michael said during a press conference on the bill. “For the first time, Californians could have accurate gender markers that truly reflect who we are.”

The federal government does not offer a third gender option for official documents such as passports. The issue drew national attention in November when a federal judge asked the U.S. State Department to reconsider its decision to deny a passport to a Colorado resident who does not identify as male or female. Government lawyers argued that moving beyond two gender choices on federal documents would hamper officials’ ability to verify identities and backgrounds because they rely on state documents including drivers’ licenses and birth certificates with only male and female gender options.

The California Family Council, a conservative Christian group, opposes adding gender options beyond male and female to state documents, the group’s CEO Jonathan Keller said.

“We believe government documents need to reflect biological facts for identification and medical purposes,” Keller said in a statement on SB 179. “Laws like this will simply erase any meaningful gender definitions, if being male or female is completely divorced from biological facts.”

Sen. Scott Wiener is coauthoring SB 179 and said he thinks California should lead the way in enacting protections for transgender people.

The trans community is under assault in this country. California needs to go in the opposite direction,” the San Francisco Democrat said. “When they go backwards, we go forwards.”

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California “snafu” releases personal information of nearly 4,000 gun safety instructors

clerical-error

From Fox News: The private information of thousands of California firearms instructors was accidentally released by the state late last year in response to a journalist’s Freedom of Information request.

The data request was made in August, when a reporter for Southern California Public Radio (KPCC), an NPR affiliate, sought all information on Firearms Safety Certifications available from the California Department of Justice.

The information was released in October, and a clerical error gave the reporter wide access to the personal information of 3,424 firearms instructors — whose dates of birth, driver’s license numbers and California identification numbers were handed over, according to NRA-ILA, the legislative arm of the National Rifle Association.

The error was caught two months later, and the California DOJ sent out a letter to all of the Golden State’s instructors letting them know their personal information had been compromised.

“The Department discovered the data breach on October 17, 2016, and notified the requestor of the error and asked that the information be destroyed and that no further dissemination of it occur,” said the letter, sent by the Office of the Attorney General Kamala Harris. Harris is now a U.S. senator.

The letter also recommended the firearm instructors place a fraud alert on their credit. Since driver’s license numbers are appealing to identity thieves, a fraud alert could prevent criminals from misusing someone’s personal data.

NRA officials blasted the California DOJ for its data breach and questioned why it took the department so long to alert the thousands who were affected. “This privacy breach is just another example of the California Department of Justice’s disregard for the rights of gun owners,” Jennifer Baker, director of public affairs for the NRA, said to FoxNews.com.  “There’s no reason why the private information of firearms instructors should have been released – the DOJ redacts information all the time.”

Baker also questioned the length of time it took the state to inform victims of the breach.  “It’s time the California government start awarding gun owners the same respect as it does non-gun owners.”

Some security experts said that while it wasn’t a significant data breach, there is still cause for concern. “The main concern, if any, would be identity theft, simply because it is so prevalent,” police consultant and retired Los Angeles Police Lt. Raymond Foster said to FoxNews.com. “I don’t think anyone would threaten these instructors, but one concern is that many of them are retired police officers and that could put them at an additional risk. Most of them when they are off-duty like to lie low and blend in. But I’d imagine that NPR would never publish this info and would likely just rip it up.”

The reporter, who the NRA-ILA identifies as Aaron Mendelson, acknowledged in his FOIA request that part of his request would be redacted. “…Please inform me of the redaction and the legal justification for it,” said the request, which was obtained by FoxNews.com.

Since receiving the data, it appears that none of the information has been published in any recent stories. In its letter to firearm instructors, the California DOJ said that it had asked the reporter to destroy the information he received and if he did not do so he would face legal action.

Neither Mendelson nor officials for Southern California Public Radio immediately returned calls for comment.

Gun instructors in California took the news of their information being released in stride. Dennis Santiago, an independent gun safety instructor in the Los Angeles area, who received the DOJ letter, told FoxNews.com he at first thought it was a hacking incident. “I was speaking with other instructors at a gun shop about it and they didn’t seem too concerned,” Santiago said. “They took it as being the cost of being in America.”

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Officer was wrong to arrest preacher for reading Bible at DMV, court rules

In April 2011, I told you about Mark Mackey, a member of the Calvary Chapel (Hemet, California), who was arrested outside of a DMV. He had showed up to read the Bible and introduce those waiting in line to the “gospel of Jesus Christ.” For about 15 minutes he was successful. That is until a California Highway Patrolman took the Bible from his hands, arrested him, and told him he was guilty of preaching to a “captive audience.”

Last Wednesday Mark was vindicated.

From Fox News: A police officer lacked probable cause to arrest a preacher for reading the Bible aloud at a California Department of Motor Vehicles office, a federal appeals court says. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling Wednesday rejected a lower court opinion that found in favor of California Highway Patrol Officer Darren Meyer.

Calvary Church pastor Mark Mackey had sued Meyer, saying his Fourth Amendment rights were violated when Meyer arrested him for preaching without a permit outside the Hemet DMV in 2011.

Meyer asserted that Mackey’s preaching led to a verbal altercation with people standing in line to get into the office. But the court said that assertion was “completely belied” by video. “You can preach on your own property,” Meyer is heard saying in the video.

“Folks, this is what the United States is coming to,” Mackey is heard saying. “You can talk about anything you want, but you can’t talk about the Bible.”

The video, which was featured on Fox News, went viral online, the Riverside Press Enterprise reported Thursday.

Mackey’s reaction to the ruling was “justice still prevails,” while Meyer declined comment, the paper reported.

Mackey was eventually cleared of the misdemeanor criminal charges brought against him.

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