Statement by the Sanctuary City Working Group of DSA-LA

As democratic socialists, we stand in solidarity with undocumented immigrants in a struggle against capitalist exploitation. Borders are inherently violent, and cannot exist without state brutality. They limit the mobility of workers, preventing them from seeking better work and a better life while permitting investors to seek opportunities without restraint; it is an injustice that borders are open to capital and closed to people. Furthermore, many migrants come to the United States because capitalism and American imperialism have imposed poverty and violence on their countries of origin.

We oppose white supremacist attempts to divide the working class and blame people of color—particularly Latinx and Muslim immigrants—for poverty and crime that are in fact caused by the unjust distribution of wealth. Employers make undocumented immigrants into a super-exploited class, hiring them precisely because they have even less access to legal protection and union representation than other workers.

In order to fight this exploitation, we demand that local, state, and federal governments treat undocumented immigrants no differently than other Californians. We oppose the criminalization of immigrants, and the conflation of policing and immigration enforcement. More specifically, we oppose local and state police sharing information on Californians with Immigration and Customs Enforcement under any circumstances. And we believe that everyone subjected to deportation proceedings deserves—as a bare minimum of civil treatment—due process and legal representation. This will not be sufficient to establish a just legal system in California, a state where police abuse and murder people of color of all immigration and citizenship statuses, but it will be a step towards justice.

Since Donald Trump’s election, Californians have demanded that their politicians react to his threats of increased deportation. Liberal politicians have proposed exemplary local and state legislation to protect immigrants—then they have revised it to protect fewer people, while continuing to claim to be progressive defenders of immigrants.

These bills include State Bill 6, under which the state would pay for legal representation for those fighting deportation in court, and the similar Los Angeles Justice Fund. When liberal state senators including Kevin de León, who represents much of Los Angeles, originally introduced SB-6 in December, they rightly named it the Due Process for All Act. Since then, they have barred those who have previously been convicted of certain crimes in the fallible and racist California justice system from receiving legal representation. Recognizing that their bill no longer enacts the constitutional ideal of “Due Process for All,” they’ve renamed it the Expanding Due Process Act. Los Angeles City Council and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors have followed the state in betraying due process, revising their LA Justice Fund bills to exclude those convicted of an even wider range of crimes.

Senator de León and his colleagues also drafted State Bill 54, the California Values Act, as a bold piece of legislation—and then undermined it. They originally intended SB-54 to separate policing from immigration enforcement by preventing state and local police from informing ICE when they release an undocumented immigrant from jail or prison, effectively turning California into a sanctuary state. Since, though, de León has capitulated to pressure from sheriffs and other conservative forces. The current version of the bill, which was approved by the State Senate on April 3 and is now being considered by the State Assembly, will still protect some imprisoned immigrants from having information about them shared with ICE, but not those convicted of a long list of crimes that the state deems “violent or serious,” no matter how long ago or how much time they’ve served. Under the revised bill, the state must notify ICE of when they’re releasing those Californians from jail or prison so that ICE can rearrest them.

While liberal politicians claim to oppose Republicans’ efforts to divide immigrants into those deserving and undeserving of staying in the United States, they are doing exactly that. We demand they stop, and stand in solidarity with the undocumented immigrants whose civil rights they claim to defend.  Sanctuary for all!

Further Reading

Leighton Akio Woodhouse, “Deportation Legal Defense Funds Move to Distinguish between ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ Immigrants,” The Intercept, April 5, 2017,

Jazmine Ulloa, “New Amendments to ‘Sanctuary State’ Bill Will Allow Police and Sheriffs to Contact ICE about Violent Felons,” Los Angeles Times, March 30, 2017,