In the same week South Bay labor leaders slammed him for wanting to weaken local sanctuary policies, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo made national headlines for telling President Donald Trump in a tweet how much he supports undocumented immigrants.
“We welcome any families willing to endure such extraordinary hardships and to take such tremendous risks to be a part of our great country,” Liccardo tweeted, appending the statement with the hashtags #VamosSanJose and #WeAreSanJose.
The mayor’s comment came in response to a Washington Post article and Trump’s declaration on Twitter Friday that his administration is giving “strong considerations to placing illegal immigrants in Sanctuary Cities only.”
Due to the fact that Democrats are unwilling to change our very dangerous immigration laws, we are indeed, as reported, giving strong considerations to placing Illegal Immigrants in Sanctuary Cities only....
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 12, 2019
Trump added: “The Radical Left always seems to have an Open Borders, Open Arms policy—so this should make them very happy!”
While officials in San Francisco and Oakland objected to Trump’s threats of using immigrants as pawns, Liccardo took a different tack by saying send them on over.
@realDonaldTrump plans to release detained immigrants to @CityofSanJose? We welcome any families willing to endure such extraordinary hardships and to take such tremendous risks to be a part of our great country. #VamosSanJose #WeAreSanJose https://t.co/YFy1SUR6Vz
— Sam Liccardo (@sliccardo) April 12, 2019
Sanctuary policies prevent local police agencies and jails from being deputized to enforce federal immigration laws. In Santa Clara County, the sanctuary rules go beyond the statewide standard by also prohibiting local police from notifying U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) about release dates of undocumented inmates convicted in the past decade of serious or violent crimes.
That local standard came under renewed scrutiny with the Feb. 28 murder of 59-year-old South San Jose resident Bambi Larson, the arrest of 24-year-old undocumented immigrant Carlos Arevalo-Carranza in connection to the crime and revelations that he had been released multiple times from jail twice in the preceding months.
In response, county supervisors Dave Cortese and Mike Wasserman brought forward a proposal to align local policy with state law by allowing local authorities to tell ICE about release dates for inmates with certain criminal convictions. That wouldn’t have prevented Arevalo-Carranza from walking free before Larson’s slaying, as he didn’t have any statutorily defined “serious or violent” convictions to his name. Regardless, a whole host of local leaders—Liccardo among them—joined the chorus demanding such a change.
“Should there be changes to the county policy, they would apply only to violent criminals—not to our predominantly law-abiding immigrant community,” the mayor wrote in a Facebook post earlier this week that included a translation in Spanish. “I also want to assure our residents that I will continue supporting our immigrant community and work to ensure everyone’s rights—regardless of their legal status—are protected.”
Though Liccardo was far from the only one to espouse that view, the South Bay Labor Council singled him out in a resolution Thursday condemning his rhetoric as divisive and damaging. “Sam Liccardo is using the tragic death of Bambi Larson to conflate immigration and crime,” it reads before calling on him to “stop his demagoguery.”
Nothing in the rebuke goes after every single police chief in the South Bay, District Attorney Jeff Rosen or San Jose Councilman Johnny Khamis. Also absent is any mention of the four out of five county supervisors—including labor-aligned Cortese and Cindy Chavez—who voted for exploring ways to chip away at local sanctuary policies.