Why I’m glad Trump defunded California

Nov 25, 2017 | Opinion

On Oct. 5, 2017, California passed Senate Bill 54, joining Oregon, Vermont, Connecticut, and Rhode Island in limiting cooperation with federal immigration authorities on a state and local level. This bill has been decried by Donald Trump and other conservatives, who view sanctuary legislation as the cause of “many needless deaths” at the hands of “dangerous criminal aliens.” In response to the bill, known as the California Values Act, and the declaration of the governor that California would become a “sanctuary state,” the Trump administration has threatened to withhold federal grant money from law enforcement agencies within the state. While state politicians and law enforcement have vehemently objected to this, is it really such a bad thing?

Since the 1003 program was started in 1997, the 

federal government has given out around 39 billion dollars worth of military equipment and grants to local law enforcement around the country. That’s more than half of the national defense budget of Russia. It’s more than the combined national defense budgets of Israel, Pakistan, and Iraq. In other words, it’s a ridiculous amount of money being funneled into local law enforcement agencies.

Between 2006 and 2014, San Mateo County law enforcement agencies acquired 139 assault rifles and a mine-resistant armored vehicle via the Defense Department’s military surplus program. Law enforcement in San Francisco County received 204 night vision pieces (including sights and binoculars) and two sets of body armor. One agency in Alameda County even received a grenade launcher.

Since the 1003 program was started in 1997, the federal government has given out around 39 billion dollars worth of military equipment and grants to local law enforcement around the country.

At what point does the question become “Are we giving the police too much funding?” rather than “Do we need to give them more?” Federal grants such as Byrne JAG funding, funds that have been noted for their rewards for drug busts, and SCAAP funds, funds that have been noted for their reward for catching undocumented immigrants, have encouraged police officers to be harsher and more violent in their treatment of immigrants and other minority communities. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has been awarded over six million dollars in SCAAP funds for aiding federal immigration enforcement with the detention of 

undocumented immigrants. These federal boosts incentivize local law agencies to racially profile minority communities and intentionally target immigrants, something clearly against the values stated in the California Values Act.

Californian residents and politicians should celebrate what could potentially be the end of federal funding and militarized police units within the state. Not only have immigrants been protected, but SB 54 could bring California one step closer to having peace-keeping police officers rather than SWAT units once more.