Kern County Supervisors rejected proposal to declare Kern a “non-sanctuary county”
Statement to the Community by Profe. Gonzalo Santos
Though glad that the Kern County Board of Supervisors rejected the May 2nd Couch/Youngblood proposal to declare Kern a “non-sanctuary county”, under the same general logic that we Earthlings do not usefully need to pass a “non-Martian” declaration, I am, in fact, quite dissatisfied that the sups then couldn’t help themselves and instructed the staff – 4 to 1 – to draft a resolution to oppose SB 54, which was, after all, the real target of the sheriff’s offensive antics.
Apart from the spurious and shallow arguments advanced to march into the swamp after avoiding stepping onto the sinkhole, the BOS missed a rare opportunity to build, finally, a bridge to the majority of its constituents in this “majority minority” county. I naively allowed myself to think for a moment that we here in Kern had finally turned a page, that a new beginning was at hand, that the Board of Supervisors was signaling a new era of inclusion, acceptance, and mutual respect. In short, I thought Kern was finally joining the transformed, forward-looking California of the past decade, which now welcomes and protects the immigrants, rather than persecutes them.
But I was disabused of such notion rather quickly. The facile manner in which the four white male supervisors went against the sole Latina on the board, and in so doing cavalierly went against the Latino majority (over 52% and growing) of the county’s population without much of a thought, just to give the rabidly xenophobic sheriff an undeserved consolation prize, returned me to reality.
I am enclosing a statement with nine fact-based points, backed by charts, which I intend to present at this Tuesday’s BOS meeting. Please join me in impressing upon the supervisors that their maneuver is not appreciated, and that not only should they pass a resolution in support of SB 54, since they brought it up, but also, while they’re at it, they should declare their support for Senators Feinstein’s & Harris’s freshly submitted “Agricultural Worker Program Act.” They should do this, that is, if they really care to express and defend the true feelings of the Latino growing majority of the county whom they claim to represent, truly care for the well-being of the hard-working farm workers and their families, and truly wish to support the robust agricultural industry that sustains this county’s economy, today directly threatened by the federal government’s draconian, indiscriminate measures, and the renewed mischief of the usual vocal “law & order” racists and xenophobes in our midst.
Profe. Gonzalo Santos, May 7, 2017
Associate Professor Emeritus of Sociology, CSUB
California Faculty Association Representative, Kern Coalition for Citizenship
*** Nine Points in Support of CA SB 54 & Sen.’s Feinstein/Harris “Agricultural Worker Program Act” ***
To be Presented by Dr. Gonzalo Santos, CSUB, to the Kern County Board of Supervisors, May 9, 2017 [See the attached file to see the cited charts]:
1. Kern County is a “majority minority county,” with ~ 52% Latino and 170,000 immigrants; California is a “majority minority state,” with ~ 40% Latino, 15% Asian, and 10.4 million immigrants. [Fig.’s 1 & 2]
2. There are about 75,000 unauthorized immigrants in Kern County, 65,000 of which (86%) are Mexican; there are about 3 million unauthorized immigrants in California, 2 million (70%) of which are Mexican. [Fig.’s 3 & 4]
3. Nearly 40% of immigrants in the Central Valley are unauthorized, and half of these work in agriculture. [Fig. 5] About 70% of all California farm workers are undocumented. CA agriculture is a $54 billion industry.
4. The rate of homicide and other violent crimes dramatically declined since the 1990s, as the US immigrant population soared. [Fig.’s 6 & 7] Immigrants commit far less crimes than US-borns.
5. The dramatic increase in interior detentions and deportations of immigrants since 9/11 has involved mostly non-criminals [Fig. 8], while the apprehensions of Mexican border crossers along the US-Mexico border has dramatically fallen in the same period. [Fig. 9]
6. The great increase in the unauthorized immigrant population occurred from 1990 to 2007, reaching 12 million, but has remained stable at around 11 million ever since [Fig 10]. The Mexican undocumented immigrant population has declined while others increased [Fig. 11].
7. The percent of unauthorized immigrants who have resided more than 10 years in the US has risen to 66%, and so has the percent embedded in so-called “mixed families,” with spouses and children with various legal statuses (US-born, naturalized, legal immigrants). That is, two-thirds of the 11 million unauthorized immigrants residing in the US are already well-integrated into American society; most are ordinary, hard-working Americans-in-waiting, Americans in every other way but papers, now suddenly all subject to summary deportation under the aggressive, indiscriminate executive orders of the new Trump administration. [Fig. 12]
8. Two-to-one, the American public considers immigrants more as a strength to the country than a burden [Fig. 13] and the hard figures regarding the many contributions by immigrants to the state of California bear out the correctness of this opinion [Fig. 14]. Today, a full third of the civilian labor force in California is made up of immigrants [Fig. 15].
9. Finally, the State of California as a whole has left behind it’s ugly history of anti-Latino and anti-Asian xenophobia - last experienced in the 1990s with its series of draconian state propositions; it has become a welcoming state for all its residents, and is today at the national forefront for providing a safe haven for those of its residents without papers, at least until the federal government revamps the broken immigration system.
In sharp contrast, the Republican Party of California remains stuck in the Pete Wilson era, vehemently hostile to any and all attempts to provide undocumented immigrants with relief, inclusion, and a legal pathway to citizenship.
This is unsustainable for the party’s political future in California. Already an irrelevant political party in Sacramento, it stands to lose the few congressional seats it still holds – 14 out of 52 – if it continues to stubbornly oppose extending protections to the California immigrant population with proposals such as SB 54, and the recent bill by Senators Feinstein and Harris, the Agricultural Worker Program Act, which aims to legalize the highly-needed undocumented farm workers [Fig. 16].
It behooves the Kern County Board of Supervisors to do the right thing, and, in so doing, join the rest of California. Vote to support – not oppose – SB 54, and while you are at it, Senators Feinstein’s & Harris’s AWPA bill, too.