There’s more than a little historical irony here. In response to the Trump administration’s initiatives to restore order in and respect for the nation’s immigration laws, the California State Legislature passed, and liberal politicians and business and entertainment elites of the state are vocally defending, three laws which openly defy the Constitution and challenge the Union. The California regulations are dedicated to maintaining a traditional way of life, and protecting economic and political power built on the manual labor and, eventually, the votes of an illegal class of workers.
By protecting the institution of illegal immigration, the California laws not only usurp federal prerogatives (to the detriment of less affluent Californians) but also undermine law enforcement far beyond the borders of the state. Therefore, the Justice Department this week initiated court proceedings against the rebellious state challenging the constitutionality of the three statutes.
Of the three, the regulation directed at business owners is by far the most critical. The policy on state inspection of detainment facilities is a nuisance but can be overcome by moving such facilities out of the state, which, incidentally, would make family visits of an incarcerated illegal alien more difficult. The policy on refusing to honor Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainment requests is canonical to the sanctuary movement. This statue concerns so-called “criminal illegal aliens.” To the extent that the Trump administration and ICE focus solely on this subset of illegal aliens, it is not combating illegal immigration so much as it is managing it.
The fact that California legislators sought to protect illegal immigrants in the workplace and specifically to undermine any possible voluntary cooperation by business owners with ICE reveals that they know where the true vulnerability of the illegal immigration edifice lies. The statute, known as Assembly Bill 405, prohibits employers from allowing ICE agents on business property without a warrant. Business owners must also alert their employees within 72 hours of ICE inspection of employee records.
Americans have been lectured for years that the number one reason for not simply enforcing all immigration laws is that it is impossible because resources are simply not sufficient. Experience in Donald TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Milley warns of 'Sputnik moment' for China WSJ publishes letter from Trump continuing to allege voter fraud in PA Oath Keeper who was at Capitol on Jan. 6 runs for New Jersey State Assembly MORE’s first year in office, however, demonstrate the extreme sensitivity of illegal immigration, even to mere rhetoric. At the beginning of his presidency, Trump “roared” and citizens in Guatemala and El Salvador stopped sending their children on top of trains to the U.S. border.
While debate of amnesty under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals has compromised that positive influence of tough talk on immigration, the press continues nevertheless to be filled with stories about terror in the immigrant community in response to ICE “unleashed.” This “terror” also suppresses border crossings and will, in time, result in repatriation of illegal aliens. It is greatest when it is centered in the workplace.
But consider the potential for terror in the business community. Suppose that ICE decided to raid five prominent restaurants in downtown San Francisco on some Saturday evening. According to a study by the Pew Hispanic Center, as many as 20 percent of all cooks across America are illegal aliens. Suppose that the Justice Department then sought jail time for convicted owners. (The maximum penalty for harboring illegal aliens is five years). Suppose on the following Saturday they did the same thing all over again. How many restaurant owners wouldn’t immediately enroll in E-Verify? Would California then become the first state to prohibit employers from using the program?
In 2016, regular Americans voted for Trump in large numbers because they simply didn’t believe that enforcing our immigration laws was impossible. They certainly did not accept eight years of George W. Bush and eight years of Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden's finishing what Obama started with early learning Cotton tells Garland: 'Thank God you're not on the Supreme Court' Budowsky: Vote for Terry McAuliffe: The midterms have begun MORE as proof of such. Law enforcement professionals know, as the experience of “broken windows policing” in New York City has shown, that 5 percent enforcement yields 95 percent compliance. The empowered elite in California know this too. Steady pressure and the will to challenge both the open-borders left and the business-first right are the keys to steady progress.
Michael Stopa (@MikeStopaMA) served as a delegate for Donald Trump at the 2016 Republican Convention in Cleveland. He hosts a political podcast with radio host Todd Feinburg for the Harvard Lunch Club.