Since Nov. 8, there’s one question I’ve been asked the most — by Latino schoolchildren, Muslim attorneys, Filipino activists, Chinese grandparents and so many other San Franciscans: “How do we fight Trump on immigration?”
Throughout our history, San Francisco’s success has been rooted in our immigrant communities. As the son of immigrant parents, I moved to San Francisco — like so many of us — because our city truly represents the global community. I was first inspired to testify at City Hall in the late 1990s in support of our sanctuary city policy. As president of the Board of Supervisors, I was humbled to work alongside immigrant advocates to pass our Language Access Ordinance, to champion the right of immigrant parents to vote in school board elections (which finally passed this November), and to establish and provide the first funding for our city’s right to civil counsel program for immigrants facing deportation.
In our state legislature, Democrats have led the nation on immigrant rights. In recent years, we’ve passed groundbreaking legislation providing driver’s licenses to all, health care to undocumented kids and overtime for farmworkers. This year, Gov. Jerry Brown signed my bill to protect immigrants from employment discrimination and provided $40 million to “One California,” a program I proposed with former Latino Caucus Chair Luis Alejo to assist immigrants in becoming naturalized citizens.
After Donald Trump won the presidency after waging the most xenophobic, anti-immigrant presidential campaign in recent American history, our Democratic legislators are again leading the national charge for our immigrant communities. Within weeks of Election Day, California Democrats have proposed laws to prevent Trump from co-opting California state agencies to enforce his immigration policies, to forbid state agencies from disclosing a Californian’s religious affiliation — if Trump tries to make good on his campaign promise to establish a Muslim registry — to bar contracting with private immigrant detention facilities, and to challenge Trump’s plans to build a border wall.
I’m proud to champion these measures, as well as to help author bills that would provide resources to nonprofits and defense attorneys that defend immigrants facing deportation.
This is just the beginning. No one knows what Trump will do when he takes office on Jan. 20. He has been unpredictable and inconsistent, and as evidenced by the spike of recent hate crimes, the bigots who support him have been emboldened by his success. We don’t know which community he will first crack down on or move to deport — Latinos, Muslims or other threatened groups. But his beliefs are an existential threat to our progressive values as a city and as a state.
As Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon has said about our California immigrants during this post-Trump era, “If you want to get to them, you have to go through us.”
We didn’t start this fight, but if Trump carries through on his campaign promises, we will fight him every step of the way. He will have to come through all of us, as we stand together, united as One California.
California State Assemblymember David Chiu is a Democrat representing eastern San Francisco.