Obama said we are all on the same team. Clinton said we must have an open mind. Trump said he wants to be the president for all of America. Yeah, right.
Pleas of conciliation are booming around the country among those who, while claiming to be sickened by Donald Trump’s election as president, are nonetheless talking about common ground and hoping for the best. “Let’s give him a chance,” they’ve urged the rest of us.
To which San Francisco has issued a declarative and invigorating: “Hell no!”
For those of us trying to find a silver lining in the recent tumult, it has been heartening to hear our local public officials — supervisors, Mayor Ed Lee, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, among many others — unite in digging in their heels in these early days, wasting no time in proclaiming their opposition to our new president.
And make no mistake — despite protest slogans to the contrary — Trump is our president. But we don’t have to like it, and we don’t have to submit to it. Opposition is as vital to democracy as compromise, and in the first week of this new reality, San Francisco made it known that it doesn’t intend to sleep through the next four years.
The San Francisco Public Defender’s Office proposed last week the creation of a unit to defend undocumented immigrants beginning in January, part of a push by city officials to keep San Francisco a sanctuary city, in light of threats by Trump to increase deportations and punish cities that don’t fall in line.
Public Defender Jeff Adachi told the San Francisco Examiner that the new unit was “an emergency measure” and said The City must organize quickly to defend itself and its people. Adachi estimated there are 30,000 undocumented immigrants in San Francisco.
Last week, the Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution that made clear its rejection of Trump’s campaign rhetoric. “No matter the threats made by President-elect Trump, San Francisco will remain a sanctuary city,” the resolution read in part. “We will not turn our back on the men and women from other countries who help make this city great, and who represent over one third of our population. This is the Golden Gate — we build bridges, not walls.”
The resolution described San Francisco values — defending the rights and protections for all people regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or immigration status — in direct opposition to the stated aims of the president-elect.
“Although the United States will soon have a president who has demonstrated a lack of respect for the values we hold in the highest regard in San Francisco,” the resolution concluded, “it cannot change who we are, and it will never change our values.”
San Francisco leaders are preparing for the possibility that Trump will make good on his pledge to cut federal funding for sanctuary cities — which, in San Francisco, amounts to more than $1 billion annually.
Mayor Ed Lee last week vowed that San Francisco officials will refuse federal requests for personal information of undocumented immigrants in The City. Lee pledged he would protect, from the Trump administration, personal information of as many as 20,000 people who have applied for SF City ID Cards, which are issued to undocumented residents for access to city services.
Lt. Gov. Newsom likewise urged the leaders of major public education institutions in California to affirm the sanctuary status of their campuses, declaring: “We have both a moral and economic imperative to protect our students — the future workforce and families of California — from Mr. Trump’s stated intentions.”
It is essential that we waste no time declaring our intentions, because this is really happening. Trump will be in the White House in less than two months, and he is wasting no time either. The architects of his administration now being assembled — including Sen. Jeff Sessions, Mike Pompeo, Rudolph Guiliani, Michael Flynn, John Bolton, Myron Ebell and Stephen Bannon, just to name a few — leave little ambiguity about Trump’s intentions for the country.
This is indeed, as Adachi says, an emergency. This country belongs to anyone who cares to fight for it, and the lines are drawn and deepening.
Last week in San Francisco began with hundreds of people gathered beneath the rotunda at City Hall on Monday holding signs proclaiming, “We Stand As One,” as the San Francisco’s Gay Men’s Chorus sang. It was as good of a start to a rough awakening as we could have hoped for.
Michael Howerton is editor-in-chief of the San Francisco Examiner.