Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood is claiming that he wants to make Kern County a "law and order" county. He's asking Kern County supervisors to declare Kern County a "non-sanctuary" county. Specifically, he wants to make sure that Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) agents can continue to use Kern County's jails to sweep up undocumented residents, so they can be deported when they are released from jail.
As I pointed out in an earlier response to local community members, I have several problems with Sheriff Youngblood's "law and order" claim.
Let’s make this real simple.
Donny Youngblood can’t claim to be a “law and order” sheriff if he’s refusing to honor or sign U Visas, which allow members of our undocumented population to stay in our country as witnesses / victims during criminal trials. If anything, denying or ignoring U Visas works against the efforts of law enforcement by making it clear that “the law” isn’t really interested in your testimony, especially if it reserves the right to arrest and deport both witnesses and victims during a criminal proceeding.
Also, what kind of message does Sheriff Youngblood’s proposed "symbolic" action say to those inclined to commit criminal acts against our undocumented population? It says one thing, loud and clear: go ahead and do what you want in the undocumented community, because they're going to be too afraid to come forward to report, or testify in court, about the crime.
Where's the law and order there?
On another level, we shouldn't be so cavalier about what’s really happening here in Kern County, California ...
During the height of the Proposition 187 lunacy, I had a student in my class (CSU, Bakersfield) with blonde hair and blue eyes who always remained calm and mostly quiet during student discussions of Prop. 187. His support for Mexicans, and his opposition to Prop. 187, took many by surprise.
I learned from him about 5 years later that he was an undocumented Canadian, and that he knew if Proposition 187 passed (it did) that he too could be swept up. He made it clear he also understood he wasn’t the target of Proposition 187, and that he could always hide behind his whiteness, which made him feel safer. But he also felt disgusted by his little corner of safety. He saw Prop. 187 for the race-bating initiative that it was, and it embarrassed him. Not as an Anglo, but as a decent human being.
He knew what was really behind the proposition.
My student passed away about 10 years ago (cancer), but before he did he told me that he never felt closer to people in America than he did to Mexicans during this time. Race-baiting and hate have a way of making strange bedfellows.
Kern County deserves better than Donny Youngblood and what he’s trying to do here.
Making an already weak and powerless community cower in fear because you think you're going to become the next Joe Arpaio is hardly inspiring. It's also not going to bring law and order to Kern County.
There's more, but I think I'll leave it there. For now.