A craven designation

Supervisors should acknowledge the contributions of our undocumented communities, not work against them

Soon enough, the Butte County Board of Supervisors will take up an issue that stands to make our region a laughingstock of California, a proposal that’s highly offensive and dangerous to an important and underrepresented segment of our community, undocumented immigrants.

We’re referring to ideologue Supervisor Larry Wahl’s call to agendize discussion on making the county a so-called nonsanctuary region, an area willing to comply with Donald Trump’s aggressive deportation policy. It’s a craven move that a couple of State of Jefferson-loving counties have modeled in recent weeks. Officials from Tehama and Siskiyou counties adopted such a designation last month. Now, Wahl wants to bring that idea to Butte County.

Interestingly, this week, conservative Shasta County shot down the call for a nonsanctuary proposal, making it an outlier among Butte County’s neighbors to the north. Maybe those policymakers haven’t bought in to Trump’s false narrative that sanctuary cities are crime-ridden, a depiction put to rest by FBI crime data that show those municipalities are generally safer. Or, perhaps Shasta officials read a University of Southern California study from a few years ago that found the state’s undocumented immigrants contribute $130 billion to the state’s gross domestic product (such immigrants make up 38 percent of the agriculture industry and 14 percent of the construction industry).

In Butte County alone, the gross value of agricultural production is upward of $800 million, according to the county agricultural commissioner. It’s our region’s No. 1 industry and it’s reliant on immigrant labor. These practicalities alone are substantive enough to give pause to such efforts to marginalize immigrant communities.

It’s also important to note that undocumented immigrants do have rights under the U.S. Constitution, the 14th Amendment in particular. This issue goes back to the writings of James Madison, a principal author of that document, and has been litigated at our nation’s highest court.

Moreover, in California, those who live here illegally have been granted certain rights (driver’s licenses, in-state tuition, etc.). Most state lawmakers, including many in the GOP, understand that our undocumented communities make important contributions to society. If anything, our local representatives should acknowledge them and consider how their absence would negatively affect our region.