Syed: From OC to DC, Yes to Hate

Shakeel Syed

Sanctuary cities and counties have measurably lower crime rates and stronger economies than their non-sanctuary counterparts. But Orange County’s Board of Supervisors doesn’t care about keeping us safe, keeping us employed, or keeping our public budgets balanced. Last Tuesday, they voted 4-0 in favor of joining a Trump Administration lawsuit against the California Values Act, a state law that prevents law enforcement from working with immigrations and customs enforcement (ICE), with exceptions made for situations concerning undocumented immigrants who are felons.

Why would the Orange County Supervisors join Los Alamitos in opposing a state bill that scapegoats immigrants, threatens public and community safety, and harms our economy? Why are they so eager to stand with President Trump, stirring up hatred and dividing our communities?

The answer is pretty simple: instead of representing their constituents and standing up for the people of Orange County, the Supes are following a similar strategy to our national leadership in DC. When facing challenges like homelessness, income inequality, and rising economic pressure, they don’t bother coming up with real policy solutions. Instead, they double down on racism and blame immigrants, hoping to get enough support from America’s voters through hate and anger.

Orange County’s leadership at the county level reflects days gone by, days when the county as a whole looked just like Los Alamitos, demographically and politically. But things have changed. Orange County in 2018 is 59% people of color. Orange County voted for a Democratic candidate in the last presidential election for the since 1936. Business-as-usual for conservative representatives won’t be enough for them to get reelected. They know this.

Our representatives could reach out to voters by developing policies to help them. Policies to fix our housing crisis, improve economic opportunity, and make it easier for immigrants in need of refuge and immigrants that America needs for our economy to come to our country legally. Such leadership isn’t limited to politicians of a particular party or affiliation. Any representative interested in doing his or her job could step up.

Or, of course, they could promote hatred and fear. Why come up with solutions when you can blame and bully the most vulnerable?

Let’s be wiser. Instead of falling for these tricks, let us love our neighbors, support our communities, and focus on building an Orange County where we are all safe, happy, and fulfilled. Let’s reject hate and choose empathy, friendship, and unity.

Shakeel Syed is the Executive Director of Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development (OCCORD) and also serves the boards of American Civil Liberties Union (Southern California), Public Law Center and Death Penalty Focus.

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