Photo: Faith in the Valley

On October 5, 2017 Senate Bill No. 54 was approved by California Governor Jerry Brown. The bill effectively makes California a “Sanctuary State” by legalizing and standardizing statewide non-cooperation policies between California law enforcement agencies and federal immigration authorities. In other words, the law prohibits companies from showing employees’ work information to ICE feds without a warrant. They also limit state agencies from sharing information with ICE about an immigrant unless the immigrant is convicted of a felony.

SB54 is part of a larger effort by California Democratic Party leadership to “resist” President Donald Trump’s policies, especially his crackdown on immigration. Although it remains to be seen the actual effect of the law and the extent to which it will be enforced, the broad movement—the actual resistance—has won this law through struggle and should be defended as
such. The law is a hard-won concession by California politicians to the movement, and it was enacted only out of Democratic Party leadership’s fears of what would happen if they did nothing in face of a the movement representing the millions of people who are outraged by the Trump policies.

The United States Department of Justice, led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, filed suit against the State of California on March 7, while a number of cities in the Riverside, Orange and San Bernardino County area such as Wildomar, Beaumont, Yucaipa, Hesperia and Huntington Beach have filed their own lawsuits, filed amicus briefs in support of a suit or taken other steps to show their opposition to SB54.

On April 23 the City of Upland held a City Council meeting where over 70 people attended. The meeting started at 7 pm and ended at 3:30 am. Protesters supporting sanctuary state status gathered outside City Hall and packed the meeting so that their voices would be heard in favor of the community supporting a sanctuary state. Despite growing support for SB54 and sanctuary state status, the city of Upland will file a brief supporting the lawsuit against California’s sanctuary state law.

The Inland Empire, which consist of Riverside and San Bernardino counties, has a long history of white supremacy and sharp, pitched struggle between racists and fascists on the one hand and oppressed peoples on the other. In San Jacinto—one of the cities that are organizing against a sanctuary state—is the headquarters of the White Aryan Resistance. In addition, ACT for America—an anti-Muslim organization—also has their office in the Inland Empire in the city of Corona.

These lawsuits against a sanctuary state come on the heels of mass deportation sweeps and other attacks against immigrants from Latin America, Caribbean and African countries, including a federal lawsuit against California, targeted raids in the state and renewed plans for border repression. Community organizers are fighting back with protests, organizing campaigns and legal action from Sacramento to San Diego. These actions alone are giving the immigrant community no other option but to organize themselves in the streets. Organized labor in the United States is also playing an increasingly-significant role in building unity and fighting for justice for all workers.

The working class grows larger and more multinational every day. Immigrant workers bring with them valuable lessons of class struggle, both in the United States and from their native countries. These lessons will continue to enrich the labor movement, bringing greater militancy, solidarity and ultimately class consciousness in the struggles ahead. The exploited of
Latin America, Caribbean and African countries displaced by centuries of colonialism and neocolonialism, will be one of the key revolutionary factors in the future of the United States — the global center of imperialism.