Unraveling California’s Quick Demise
By Joe Guzzardi
Through incredibly good fortune, I’ve been unable to watch the tedious impeachment trial. I’m traveling and my destinations don’t have television. I can’t report having the same luck, however, with the daily immigration news. Bulletins pour into my email inbox, and since immigration has been my journalism beat for more than 30 years, I’m professionally obligated to keep current. The news is relentlessly dreary, and reflects how far from the rule of law California has drifted.
In its story “This Immigration Lawyer Understands Her Clients; She’s Undocumented,” the Los Angeles Times was almost giddy over illegal alien Lizbeth Mateo and her representation before the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) of a fellow illegal alien. Let that sink in: an illegal alien lawyer defending an illegal alien in a U.S. Court. According to a former legacy Immigration and Naturalization employee, no one can serve as an attorney or be a member of the state bar if they are criminals – Mateo entered and reentered the United States illegally. Nor are they eligible to represent an alien before the EOIR since their immigration status conflicts with the laws at issue.
Instead of focusing its story on the absurdity and legal questionability of an illegal immigrant subject to immigration laws, including arrest and deportation, representing another illegal immigrant, the Times instead referred to Mateo as “polished, savvy” which may be true but is also incomplete. Mateo is certainly savvy. Several years ago, she and eight other activists, known collectively as the The Dream 9, traveled to Mexico, then demanded and received reentry permission so they could protest what they perceived as President Obama’s harsh immigration policy.
That California would be the epicenter of such an outrageous immigration failure surprises no one. In 2013, as it began its slide into the depths of incomprehensible catering and entitlement-dole-out to unlawfully present migrants, then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 1024, legislation that allowed illegal aliens who passed the California bar to receive law licenses.
During the same week, Brown also approved state-issued drivers licenses for aliens. A boastful Brown said, “While Washington waffles on immigration, California’s forging ahead, I’m not waiting.” One year later, Brown signed more expansive legislation that ordered the 40 licensing boards which the California Department of Consumer Affairs recognizes to, by 2016, accept applications regardless of immigration status. To replace the previously required Social Security number on all professional license applications, aliens could substitute the easily acquired federal Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.
Brown was correct, but not in the way he imagined, when he called Washington an immigration waffler. In the nearly seven years that have passed since Brown signed AB 1024, Congress has done little to end the privileges like driving, sanctuary city protection, and access to lower in-state university education fees that states and counties have awarded to illegal immigrants. As a California native and long-time immigration analyst, the question I’m most often asked is: What happened to the Golden State? In recent memory California was a conservative bastion under U.S. Sen. Richard Nixon, and Governors Ronald Reagan and Pete Wilson.
But then, as president, Reagan went rogue and signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. During the ensuing years, tens of thousands of legal and illegal immigrants arrived. The legal immigrants and their children who came of age in the late 1990s and early 2000s favor higher immigration levels, self-define as Democrats and vote accordingly. Among the illegal alien contingent that came to California, many have remained, and some have received amnesty and therefore voting rights. They too support immigration expansion.
Today in California, as the EOIR example proves, federal immigration laws are meaningless. If they’re willing to objectively study California’s immigration history, other states could learn an important lesson. Too much identity politics accelerates great states’ declines and fall. In about a half-century, California went from being America’s most coveted destination to today’s societal mess from which residents with options can’t flee fast enough.
Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.