Immigrant groups urge passage of California Values Act

Cynthia Moreno
Vida En El Valle
January 31, 2017

Francisco Espino remembers Election Day like it was yesterday.

He was at a mosque in Southern California canvassing and encouraging people to go vote. By late afternoon, as presidential election results started to pour in, he didn’t stick around long enough to see the final results.

The sea of red states across the U.S. map was all it took for him to walk away.

“I got in my car and I left. On my way home, I burst into tears. I was bawling. I cried and cried and I didn’t know what to think and I didn’t know what to do,” said Espino.

As an undergraduate student at UCLA and as an undocumented immigrant, he had spent the last few years mobilizing immigrant communities in his hometown through PICO and throughout southern California. Espino arrived to his humble home in Anaheim to let his emotions out.

His parents watched as he came through the door with tears in his eyes.

“My mom looked at me and said, “No tengas miedo” (Don’t be afraid). Everything is going to be OK, you will see,” 

she said.

For Espino, that was the moment he decided that his mobilization efforts would not end with the election of Donald J. Trump.

“It was that moment that made me realize the incredible resiliency, tenacity and love that my parents, myself and so many other undocumented immigrants in this country have for our communities and our country and it is exactly what keeps us moving forward,” said Espino.

This morning, Espino shared his story at a state Senate Public Safety Committee hearing today (Jan. 31) on Senate Bill 54, otherwise known as the California Values Act, which was introduced by Senate President pro Tem Kevin De León earlier last week.

The bill would ensure that local and state governments do not use any resources to fuel mass deportations and also allow schools, hospitals, and courts to remain safe and accessible to all community members irrespective of immigration status.

De León, who has vowed to challenge any and all anti-immigrant policies coming out of Washington, D.C., said Trump’s latest policies on deportations will rip apart families in California and undercut due process for millions of immigrants.

“This past week the president confirmed some of our worst fears by signing an executive order on interior immigration enforcement. He will not focus on criminals as he promised on the campaign trail and instead his deportation policy will be a dragnet for millions of hard working immigrants in our state,” said De León.

Amid profound outrage at the President’s latest assaults on immigrants, refugees, and Muslims this past weekend– pro-immigrant groups like the Asian Law Caucus and the California Immigrant Policy Center, gathered at the committee hearing to voice their support for SB 54.

Espino was among them.

“The California Values Act recognizes the dignity of every single person in this state– immigrant or not. It also values the resiliency and the historic struggle that so many in our communities have faced and embody,” said Espino.

History, he said, is being ignored at the national level and the values that California embodies are at stake.

“We can’t ignore the time that we passed the Chinese Exclusion Act or the Mexican Repatriation Act. We can’t let history repeat itself,” said Espino.

Senate Bill 54 was passed by the committee on a 5-2 vote on party lines.

In a few weeks, the bill will be heard by the state Senate Appropriations Committee. If passed, the bill would ensure that officials such as police, sheriffs, and schools security officers are not involved in reporting, arresting, detaining, or turning community members over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for deportation. It would also bolster confidentiality practices at state agencies to allow immigrants to continue successfully participating in California’s public life.

“If we were to enact the draconian policy of mass deportation in California, it would be woefully detrimental to our economy,” said De León.