California Sanctuary Initiative Fails to Qualify for Ballot
The California Secretary of State office announced this week that the illegal alien lobby failed to gather enough signatures to qualify a voter initiative that would have given “California Residence Permits” to illegal aliens for the November ballot. The measure would also have prohibited state funds from being used to support immigration enforcement efforts.
The ballot initiative, No. 15-0022, which was titled “The California Immigration Reform Act”, would have done little to reform immigration law. Rather, the initiative would have perpetuated the status quo in California by providing illegal aliens who receive the “California Residence Permit” another tool to shield themselves from detection by federal immigration authorities. It also would have created another magnet for illegal aliens to move to the state. The State of California, with the highest population of illegal aliens of any state in the country, already spends over $25 billion annually to subsidize illegal immigration. This cost is expected to grow as more illegal aliens move to the state.
In order to implement the initiative’s permit program, the initiative sought to create a new state department to administer the program. Recipients of the “California Residence Permit” also would have become eligible for numerous California taxpayer funded benefits, including all benefits lawful permanent aliens are eligible for in the state. The Legislative Analyst’s Office was unable to provide a reasonable estimate of the net impact of the proposed initiative, due to the initiatives complex implications, but warned that the initiative would have had a “substantial net change in state or local finances.”
In addition to being fiscally irresponsible, the ballot initiative would likely also be found by a court to be preempted by federal law. The Supreme Court of the United States has repeatedly interpreted the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution, which establishes federal law as “the supreme law of the land,” to invalidate any state or local immigration law, ordinance, or policy that stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the “full purposes and objectives” of Congress in enacting federal immigration law. Because the primary object of the initiative was to obstruct federal enforcement efforts, it is likely a court would find the initiative to be preempted.
The initiative also prohibits all cooperation between state and local officials with federal immigration officials in matters related to the enforcement of immigration law against a recipient of the “California Residence Permit.” While California already has a statewide sanctuary law prohibiting state and local officials from complying with ICE detainers in almost all circumstances, the law at least allows state and local law enforcement to cooperate with ICE officials in matters regarding a criminal alien who has been convicted of a serious or violent crime, as enumerated in the statute. This failed initiative would have gone further to prioritize the interests of criminal aliens over the general safety and welfare of the public by requiring that all residence permit holders, even those convicted of serious or violent crimes, be released back onto the streets once they become eligible for release from state or local custody, instead of transferred to federal custody.
While the Secretary of State did not announce the total number of signatures received in support of the measure, advocates would have needed at least 365,880 signatures, or five percent of the total votes cast for governor in the 2014 general election. California law allows petitioners 180 days to collect signatures in support of the measure.