Six gubernatorial hopefuls squared off on immigration and higher education in Royce Hall on Thursday night.
The Latino Community Foundation and Univision hosted the 2018 Gubernatorial Forum on Thursday. Democratic candidates Gavin Newsom, John Chiang, Antonio Villaraigosa and Delaine Eastin and Republican candidates John Cox and Travis Allen participated in the debate.
Outside the forum, about 50 students from Improving Dreams, Equality, Access, and Success at UCLA, a student group that advocates for undocumented students, held student demonstrations calling on the gubernatorial candidates to support protections for all undocumented individuals.
Liliana Moran, a co-chair of IDEAS at UCLA who graduated in the fall, said she thinks politicians often advocate for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients and not enough for other undocumented individuals. The DACA program, which former President Barack Obama enacted in 2012, deferred deportation for undocumented individuals brought to the United States.
“I want them to keep in mind the 11 million undocumented individuals in the United States,” she said. “Some of them are our parents.”
Candidates often split along party lines in their support or opposition of President Donald Trump’s rhetoric and his administration’s policies, including his decision in September to end the DACA program.
California passed Senate Bill 54, unofficially known as the “sanctuary state” bill, in October. The bill prohibits state and local law enforcement from sharing undocumented individuals’ information with federal immigration authorities.
Newsom, California’s lieutenant governor, said he is committed to California’s status as a sanctuary state and vowed to aggressively push back against the Trump administration’s agenda.
“We don’t tolerate that diversity, we celebrate that diversity,” he said.
The two Republican candidates said they opposed California’s sanctuary status and believe the state should prioritize citizens.
State Assemblyman Allen said he supports federal immigration policy because he thinks undocumented immigration has led to an increase in crime. He added he thinks San Francisco’s status as a sanctuary city led to the death of Kate Steinle in 2015. Law enforcement officers arrested Garcia Zarate, who was an undocumented immigrant, for shooting Steinle in the back. A jury found that Zarate was guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm, but not guilty of first-degree murder.
Allen said, if elected, he would reverse California’s status as a sanctuary state in his first 100 days in office and restrict funding to sanctuary cities.
“California must respect and enforce federal immigration law,” he said. “Living in California is a privilege and not a right, you must come in the front door.”
Cox, a venture capitalist, said he wanted to protect DACA recipients already in California but added he also wants to curb undocumented immigration.
“Trump is trying to solve the problem but we need to fix illegal immigration (by building) border walls,” he said.
Cox said he thinks politicians are beholden to special interests, and added that he would get rid of corruption in Sacramento.
“(Politicians) don’t solve the problems. … They create all kinds of anger and resentment,” he said. “I’m a businessman, not a politician – this state is being mismanaged by the politicians.”
Several candidates said they think it is important for the state to fund higher education.
Eastin, former California state superintendent, said she wants the state to build more colleges because many students are turned away from California State University and University of California systems. She added she would also like college tuition to be free.
“The best crime prevention program is education, best economic development is education,” she said.
Chiang, California state treasurer, said he wants to improve college affordability because he thinks the burden of paying for college has shifted from the state to students. He said he would prioritize making community college free and then use state revenue to work on reducing the cost of early care education and higher education.
“Education is my top priority (and) I want to go all-in on higher education,” he said. “It’s more than free tuition, I want to make sure the low-income, middle-income students get taken care of first.”