Newsletter: The Left Coast resistance to Donald Trump

Trump protesters
Students from several high schools rally at City Hall in downtown Los Angeles on Nov. 14 after walking out of classes to protest the election of Donald Trump.
(Reed Saxon / Associated Press)

Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, The Times’ letters editor, and it is Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016. None of what you are about to read is based on fake news; with that in mind, let’s take a look back at the week in Opinion.

In last week’s newsletter, I noted that The Times’ editorial board stridently opposed Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy. Now that the Republican has been elected and is laying the groundwork for his administration, the editorial board hasn’t let up in its criticism of the 45th president of the United States.

Take immigration, an issue that impacts The Times’ own backyard as extensively as any other region in America. President-elect Trump seems intent on governing on this issue similar to how candidate Trump talked about it on the campaign trail: based on impulse, falsehoods and prejudice instead of the actual experiences of communities that have absorbed immigrants for decades. On the issue of so-called sanctuary cities, the editorial board says this is especially true:

The first casualty in the war on the undocumented, as in any war, is the truth. In this case, President-elect Donald Trump appears to have bought into a series of falsehoods and sweeping generalizations about the roles that cities and municipal law enforcement play in supposedly shielding residents from federal immigration enforcement. Los Angeles is fortunate to have, in Charlie Beck, a police chief who distinguishes between fact and fiction and recognizes the role his officers play in protecting public safety.

As Trump aides hammered out their plans to pressure local police and jail officials to assist in finding and deporting residents who crossed the border illegally or otherwise flouted immigration laws, Beck on Monday said the LAPD would not change its current practices. It would not begin questioning people on their immigration status or turning over low-level crime suspects who are undocumented to federal authorities.

The LAPD is not a branch of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and police do not allow themselves to be deputized as immigration agents. Nor should they.

Since the 1970s, the LAPD has wisely recognized that it can best protect public safety by cultivating good relationships with the communities it serves and giving all residents the assurance that they can speak to police without fear of being deported. Besides, police here have plenty of their own work to do without adding immigration enforcement...

Beck’s sound approach, which has been the policy of every L.A. police chief since Daryl F. Gates, is sometimes used to brand Los Angeles a “sanctuary city.” It is not — at least, not if that term is to have any actual meaning. L.A. does not actively shield anyone from deportation nor does it impede efforts by federal officials to do their work. Besides, most of the interaction with ICE necessarily is not with the city but the county — which grants federal agents full access to its jails and inmate databases and follows protocols for transferring inmates to federal custody.

But some immigration hawks, including Trump, have indulged in a kind of definition creep under which they brand any municipality a “sanctuary city” if it fails to do the federal government’s immigration work for it. That would be merely dishonest were it not for the possibility that the Trump administration might punish “sanctuary” cities by withholding federal police funding for supposedly flouting immigration law. Having campaigned on anti-immigration “facts” that are mainstays of conservative blogs and talk radio, Trump now has a lot to learn before turning his pronouncements into policies that enhance, rather than undermine, public safety.

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Yes, you should panic over Steve Bannon in the White House. Donald Trump’s top advisor will be the so-called alt-right’s media mogul, whose news site served as a platform for the white nationalist elements of the far right. When President Obama remarked that a Trump administration might surprise us (in a good way) so long as the next president “has got good people around him and he has a clear sense of direction,” Bannon surely wasn’t what he had in mind, says the editorial board. L.A. Times

Trump needs to get out of the Trump business. Donald Trump was an unconventional candidate and will surely be an unconventional president, but those facts do not excuse him from avoiding even the appearance of a conflict of interest and maintaining trust with the American people. The Times editorial board has a solution: Trump must cut ties to the business that made him a billionaire, difficult and costly as it may be for him. L.A. Times

Proposition 187 then, Donald Trump now. Gustavo Arellano recalls reacting skeptically to protests by his fellow high school classmates 26 years ago against the punitive ballot measure that denied many social services to undocumented immigrants. But now he realizes that the students in 1994 were merely reacting appropriately to an injustice that posed an existential threat to them, just as the students leaving their classrooms are doing today to protest Trump. L.A. Times

Let Californians vote on secession. California native Timothy William Waters, a law professor who lives in Indiana, thinks voters in this state ought to be allowed to decide on their future in the United States. A simple U.S. constitutional amendment modeled on secession votes elsewhere — think Quebec’s longtime independence effort — would work for the United States. Waters also believes a possible vote to remain in the U.S. would do what other failed secession efforts have done: strengthen ties between aggrieved locals and the rest of the nation. L.A. Times

#Calexit — fun hashtag, bad idea. It may feel good for Trump-wary Californians to dream of an independent blue republic on the West Coast, but all this talk of abandoning our fellow Americans is nonsense, writes political scientist Thad Kousser. A better idea for dismayed liberals would be to imitate the tea party, which exhibited resilience throughout the Obama presidency, recruited candidates to run in local, state and federal races and now stands on the verge of achieving a major victory in repealing Obamacare. L.A. Times

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