While it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, San Francisco’s newly minted District Attorney continues to generate headlines of precisely the wrong sort. But as you will presently come to understand, nobody can fault him for trying to sneak anything past the residents of the City by the Bay. He’s simply doing precisely what he promised while out on the campaign trail. And the voters of that city elected him anyway.
His latest move will give many people pause, however, and likely prove true the warnings of his critics. In a long think piece at Commentary Magazine (and I mean very, very long), Andrew McCarthy delves into one of District Attorney Chesa Boudin’s latest initiatives involving immigration. That’s a natural subject for a DA to look into, as McCarthy notes because there are plenty of immigration laws that require enforcement. But that’s not what Boudin has in mind. He’s setting up a task force to prevent illegal aliens from being prosecuted or deported.
A newly minted district attorney for a major American city vows to establish an immigration unit. At first blush, that would seem entirely normal for a prosecutor’s office. Immigration laws require enforcement, and prosecutors are in the law-enforcement business.
But no—the new San Francisco DA actually has in mind an immigration defense unit. He wants to assign a staff of prosecutors to protect undocumented aliens—those who are either illegal and thus deportable to begin with, or for whom a criminal conviction could result in loss of lawful status and thus eventual deportation. The unit’s enforcement target would be not the law violators but the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who enforce federal laws, along with any local police and corrections officials who have the temerity to assist ICE in that endeavor. The prosecutors’ mission, in the words of their new boss, would be to “stand up to Trump on immigration”—the president having made signature issues of border security and the stepped-up deportation of aliens who flout the laws.
In case you need a somewhat more distilled version of this story, the new San Francisco District Attorney is setting up a team of prosecutors and using the resources of their office to prevent people from being prosecuted. One is left to wonder why someone who is so averse to prosecuting almost anyone (Boudin doesn’t limit his complaints to only the treatment of illegal aliens) would pursue a job that is defined by the responsibility to prosecute and convict the guilty.
But as I said above, this really isn’t new territory for the child of infamous Weather Underground terrorists. He’s simply fleshing out the policy points he stuck to on the campaign trail. And those objectives were clearly popular with his supporters. As McCarthy reminds us, during Boudin’s victory party on election night, the crowd broke out into thunderous chants of “F**k POA!” (The Police Officers Association.) At the risk of boring you with redundancy, I will remind you yet again that we’re talking about the person elected to be the District Attorney.
From the beginning, Boudin promised to stop enforcing so-called “quality of life” crimes including camping on sidewalks or public urination and defecation. He said he would do his level best to empty the jails and prisons as much as possible. As soon as he arrived at his new office, he fired a raft of his most experienced and successful prosecutors, replacing them with people more sympathetic to his “justice reform” initiatives.
Boudin is truly shaping the mold of what McCarthy describes as “the progressive prosecutor,” a new character in our ongoing political passion play. He isn’t here to enforce the law. Rather, he’s actively working to obstruct the entire concept of enforcement. We’re reminded that during his victory speech he described “a movement…rejecting the notion that, to be free, we must cage others.”
To give credit where due, Boudin came up with one of the most creative solutions to what he sees as the “problem of mass incarceration” of anyone in the progressive movement. Rather than fighting to change policy from the outside or even from within the legislature, he invaded, ransacked and took over the office of the person responsible for convicting and incarcerating felons and is now clearly refusing to do the job. In that sense, he’s sort of cutting out the middle man.
Do not spare any sympathy for the people of San Francisco as the crime rate begins to inexorably rise and their safety is eroded. A majority of them (albeit a slim one) voted to put Boudin in office. And now they’re going to be getting precisely what they voted for.