WatchSonoma Watch

County immigration forum finds little common ground


Laura González, a teacher and Santa Rosa School Board member, is an ardent advocate for people who entered the United States without permission in order to forge a better life. She terms them “undocumented immigrants.”

Steve Giraud of Petaluma, director of the NorCal Border Patrol Auxiliary, argues with equal fervor that those same people, whom he generally terms “illegal aliens,” are, whatever their motivation, a risk to public health and safety and a drain on the U.S. economy.

On Thursday, González and Giraud, seated next to each other at a forum convened by the county’s Commission on Human Rights, agreed on one thing that needs to happen in order to address the situation of the roughly 12 million people in the country illegally.

County Supervisor Shirlee Zane speaks during the Commission on Human Rights Immigration Forum Thursday in Santa Rosa. (CRISTA JEREMIASON/ PD)

“The first place to start would be workplace enforcement,” González said, referring to policies that would prosecute employers that hire illegal labor.

That was one of the few areas in which Giraud and his fellow panelists — most of whom aligned clearly with González — found common ground.

Perhaps 75 people attended the two-hour forum, part of the commission’s Sonoma Counterpoints discussion series. Like the panelists, the audience, judging from applause and murmurs, was squarely on the left side of the debate — which was notably polite on Thursday — over illegal immigration.

Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane set the tone with a full throated endorsement of of immigrants in general, and also a call to recognize the economic contributions of immigrants who have crossed the border illegally.

Undocumented workers alone contribute $158 billion a year to California’s gross state product, Zane said, citing a 2011 study by the left-leaning Immigration Policy Center.

“This is not a group that needs to be maligned; they’re a group that needs to be celebrated,” she said, calling for applause, which was mostly forthcoming.

Giraud, in his closing remarks, countered Zane’s figures. Citing other studies, he said the net loss to the U.S. from illegal immigration is $113 billion.

“What part of illegal don’t you understand,” he said at one point, during an exchange over the correct term for people who commit the federal misdemeanor of crossing the border without authorization.

He, too, got some applause, though less.

Also on the panel were Assistant Sonoma County Sheriff Lorenzo Dueñas, who introduced himself as a son of a bracero, a Mexican farmworker who came to the United States under a government labor program in the 1950s; immigration attorney Christopher Kerosky; Nick Frey, president of the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission; and Marcos Suarez, president of the county’s Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

The forum was taped and will be available for viewing through the commission at a later date.

You can reach Staff Writer Jeremy Hay at 521-5212 or jeremy.hay@pressdemocrat.com.

14 Responses to “County immigration forum finds little common ground”

  1. Graeme Wellington says:

    Laura needs to make this kind of effort to get the laws changed. Convincing people they should just disobey or ignore the law out of “sympathy” or what have you? That’s a losing argument.

    If Latinos were voting Republican, she’d be on her soapbox demanding they be deported.

    This is just another partisan issue. Once the 47% tip past 50% then Laura and her ilk are in power forever and the USA is finished just like Europe.

    Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  2. Joseph says:

    You know Jenny I may be disabled and dying from a terminal illness, but I am not so ill as not to see the county has considerable room for improvement. The culture of county Government needs to change. As you stated you are underpaid, well you know where the door is, you can leave anytime. Leadership means being an advocate for change. Being educated means being able to deal with divisive issues with tac and diplomacy.

    Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  3. Skippy says:

    “Nor Cal Border Patrol Auxillary?
    Sounds like a racist bunch of Red necks.”
    Those that favor enforcing the law are commonly referred to as racists.
    In fact racism is blamed whenever liberals and collectivists have trouble implementing their anti-American policies.
    Those accused of racism should be proud to wear the badge.
    It means you have offered an intelligent argument that cannot be countered with logic, reason or historical example.
    A racist is just a conservative winning an argument with a liberal.

    Thumb up 14 Thumb down 3

  4. George H Freeman says:

    Nor Cal Border Patrol Auxillary?
    Sounds like a racist bunch of Red necks
    that want to abuse brown people? Being a Native American aboriginal I don’t see any borders in the American continent and see the Pilgrims as the first illegal aliens needy of social services. allowing the illegal immigrants cost the Indians to be annilated to less than 27% of their original population upon contact
    and loss of almost all their land and natural resources. How many of the ad hoc border patrol militias are of color?

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 25

  5. jenny says:

    joseph, you so wrong and so misinformed and this is easily fixed, walk up to or call any county agency. not only does the county NOT do what you are claiming, but they have patient advocates to ensure that doesn’t happen, who fight for patient rights, for patients who can’t even speak for themselves, who go into all county care homes to inspect and regulate, and make sure clients are being cared for properly, and if they aren’t the sh*t hits the fan. how dare you make claims like that-the people who do those jobs work hard, believe in what they do, and do a GREAT JOB, and are underpaid, go above and beyond what is required of them, work after hours, take their work home with them, AND are constantly facing pay cuts with the county, that I see you online always talking smack about laying them all off and starting fresh, and here you are saying those same people leave all those patients to die-what an ignorant fool you are! go eduacte yourself BEFORE YOU POST ANYMORE COMMENTS

    Thumb up 6 Thumb down 9

  6. Taxpayer says:

    Illegal immigration is killing America.

    Thumb up 24 Thumb down 6

  7. Joseph says:

    Jenny, we are looking at the same paradox from apposing variables. ER’s are money losing Propositions. Sonoma county practices euthanasia of its disabled citizens being displaced from care by those who are not contributing to the system.
    Suicide is now the number one killer in this country, surpassing auto accidents followed closely by accidental poisoning.
    My best childhood friend killed himself at thirteen, his note read “…no matter how hard to do the right thing: I am punished…”

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 11

  8. Ray says:

    I just don’t care about the debate anymore, it has been going on since the early nineties. And for some reason it always comes up when the economy is in a downturn, or when republicans are using it for a campaign slogan. How about a reality check, the us mexican border is 1,954 miles long. Over 14 million illegals in the country, and an issue that just keeps on giving to both parties democrats and republicans. So you can waste your breath arguing about it, but don’t hold your breath and expect anything to be done, even the november election would not change anything. I mean c’mon remember Bush anybody….anybody

    Thumb up 15 Thumb down 2

  9. jenny says:

    Joseph, how are you missing the fact that those without insurance are already getting free health care?? And when they do get it, they’re getting it at ERs, at about ten times the average price. and who do you think pays for that? all of us.
    Just like people driving without car insurance. and they raise the rates for all of us, until the law came into effect saying now everybody had to be insured.
    Because, when people think ‘oh why should I have to pay every month for health insurance? I’d rather buy a new jet ski or go on vacation, I never get sick anyway…” and then duh, they are human and do get sick,or injured and have to go to the ER, the only place that legally can’t refuse to treat them without insurance, we all have to pay. again, at ten times the price it should be. it’s not fair to all of us that do the responsible thing.
    and it’s killing our economy.
    we are paying for everybody while health insurance premiums soar, and they make super profits and pick and choose who gets coverage based on how much profit they can make of who.
    I work in the health industry, my education is in health care.
    you are wrong.

    Thumb up 16 Thumb down 5

  10. R.B. Fish says:

    Real story:

    Illegal immigrant here for 10 years with four kids, 3 from first and one from second marriage. He is a valued vineyard employee and she is works in hotel services. He is illegal and speaks English well and is a nice person. She is illegal and speaks no English with one beautiful child. He received funding assistance to buy his older work SUV. They have a new affordable housing unit which is mostly subsidized by taxpayers with has an income level requirement. One child lives there but four are listed as residents. To keep his income level below the requirement he gets differential cash payment from employer. She gets minimal wage and gets cash daily. They have free education for kids, free health insurance, free legal services, food coupons, and electronic debit benefits so they can go out to eat, free after school services and free food at local resources centers. The kids get free extracircular activities and scholarships awards for high school and college. Many get selected before those children of taxpaying America citizens. They work hard and live off whatever is free from society and save the cash and when they buy cars, and large ticket items it’s always in cash…$100 bills. Many send the saved cash back to families in other countries via mail order checks. Most are absolutely glue less about America and its history of freedom. To them it’s about “free things.” Taxpaying American citizens not only do not have those entitlement benefits they pay for them. Multiply that by a few hundred thousand in the North Bay and millions in California.
    Illegal immigration and unfunded public pension liabilities are destroying society and they don’t care. Do you?

    Thumb up 25 Thumb down 6

  11. Joseph says:

    Paradoxical Quote of The Day From Ben Stein: “Fathom the hypocrisy of a government that requires every citizen to prove they are insured… but not everyone must prove they are a citizen.” Now add this, “Many of those who refuse, or are unable, to prove they are citizens will receive free insurance paid for by those who are forced to buy insurance because they are citizens.” Think about it when you vote in November

    Thumb up 28 Thumb down 7

  12. Reality Check says:

    There is little ground between the two sides on this issue upon which to base a compromise because each side is diametrically opposed to the other. The so-called reform side wants, stripped of euphemisms, amnesty and the end of immigration law enforcement. Since the other side wants the law enforced, where’s the basis for compromise?

    The reform side advocates in effect an open border, which they dare not admit openly, while advocates of law enforcement are undermined by employers who enjoy cheap labor and by being tarred in the media as racists.

    But if you wonder why wages at the bottom of our society have stagnated for 35 years, think about the consequences of flooding the entry-level labor market with one million immigrants each year.

    Whatever the benefits of cheap labor, the social costs to our society have been incalculable.

    Thumb up 25 Thumb down 1

  13. David J. Spencer says:

    Problems with illegal immigration are fairly easy to discern, and they start with the 1986 law that was intended to control the problem. At that time there were 3 million or so illegal immigrants in the country. They were given amnesty, the 1986 law was passed, and everybody thought everything was going to be hunky-dory.

    Twenty six years have passed, there are now something like 14 million illegal immigrants in the country, and once again there is a clamor to “do something about illegal immigration.”

    But the problem is obvious: the 1986 law was never enforced and was being actively undermined. Case in point: Proposition 187.

    It was overturned on constitutional grounds by the Ninth Circuit, but then Governor Gray Davis decided not to appeal the Ninth Circuit’s decision, and Proposition 187 died on the vine. Had Governor Davis elected to appeal the Ninth Circuit’s decision it is entirely possible it would’ve met the same fate at the U.S. Supreme Court as the recent Arizona law: parts would’ve been upheld, and parts would’ve been overturned.

    Since the Proposition 187 case the State Supreme Court has ruled that if the State refuses to pursue an appeal if a voter initiative is overturned by an Appeals Court then some other entity, acting on behalf of the electorate, can continue the appellate pursuit. So we are not apt to see a repeat of the Proposition 187 situation: the electorate passes an initiative, it is overturned by an Appeals Court, and the State refuses to go any further.

    But the original problem remains–the 1986 Immigration Law was never enforced, and today we are, twenty-six years later, still having rancorous discussions on the matter.

    Thumb up 29 Thumb down 1

  14. Jim says:

    I don’t understand the “debate” here. The two sides are clear…

    One side believes that if you exist in CA you are entitled to taxpayer paid medical care, education, food, school lunches, employment, etc.

    Another side says that if you are illegal (that is the proper term regardless of what side you are on) you should be arrested and shipped home.

    The problem is that it doesn’t matter what anyone believes. Voters in CA passed Prop 187, ending all services for illegal aliens. A judge overturned it and it hasn’t been heard of since. This happens any time a non-progressive, liberal, left-wing (whatever) proposition passes. No to legal pot…put it on the ballot over and over until it passes. No on gay marriage…overturned by the court. There is no debate in this state. The voters don’t have a say, just a facade of one. It is 100% driven by the corrupt politicians and severely left-leaning courts.

    There are three sides to this issue. The pro-illegal alien, the anti-illegal alien and then the facts. Look at this article. The pro and anti sides both claim a “study” that says illegal aliens are good or the illegal aliens are bad. My bet is that neither study is the truth. Want to see the truth? Go to your local hospital ER and look around. Talk to your local car insurance agent and ask why your premiums keep rising. Drive down to your local school and watch who gets free meals 7 days a week. Drive into Roseland after dark and see who shoots you first…MS-13? Nortenos? Go to any prison in CA and see the 38% illegal alien population, and then Google how much taxpayers are robber for prison guard pay and benefits. Go down to your local Western Union and ask how much money is sent out of the country rather than spent in the state where it is ‘earned’ under the table.

    There are REAL costs that taxpayers incur because of illegal aliens. Ignore the studies, they are always leaning one way or another. I have decided that I don’t care any longer. As a citizen of the US and resident of CA, I don’t matter to the politicians.

    Thumb up 37 Thumb down 5

Leave a Reply