The Riggs Report: Sac mayor-elect fights for civil rights

December 8, 2016

Darrell Steinberg gears up to oppose Trump deportation policies

Darrell Steinberg no longer wields the statewide political leverage he had during six years as president pro tem of the State Senate. But as he prepares to take the oath of office next week to become Sacramento’s mayor, Steinberg is not leaving behind conflict on another high-level stage with the incoming Trump administration in Washington.

“You work with him where you can, you fight where you must,” Steinberg told me this week in response to a question about Donald Trump.

In the interview, Steinberg said he draws the line at talk of an aggressive campaign to launch a mass deportation of undocumented immigrants.

“I don’t think you give any quarter on the civil rights of people,” Steinberg said.

Those remarks echo those of Democratic leaders at the state Capitol, including Steinberg’s successor as Senate president pro tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles. De Leon introduced Senate Bill 54 this week—a measure that would ban state and local law enforcement officers from assisting federal immigration agents in deportation cases.

“We will not stand by and let the federal government use our state and local agencies to separate mothers from their children,” de Leon said in a written statement.

Steinberg said Sacramento police would not do that anyway, as a matter of policy. But SB 54 sends a strong message, Steinberg added.

“It’s another example of making it clear to people who are really afraid that we’re going to stand with them—law-abiding people, college students who have lived here since they were an infant, who are just working hard to be part of California,” Steinberg said.

Still, in remarks earlier to the Sacramento Press Club, Steinberg emphasized that he’s not interested in picking a full-scale fight with Trump or the Republican-led Congress.

Aside from issues like immigration, Steinberg said he wants to see the president-elect succeed and believes there’s common ground to be found on a range of federal funding issues.

Steinberg also outlined, in broad terms, his goals as the city’s next mayor, which include efforts to further diversify private-sector jobs, improve workforce training, address the homeless issue, and capitalize on his Capitol connections to secure more state funding. That includes working with Gov. Jerry Brown during his last two years in office.

“The governor and I worked together through tough times, and came out very well,” Steinberg said. “We had a few differences along the way, but they were never significant. I have great respect for him, and I’m looking forward to working with him.”

Steinberg will be sworn in Tuesday to succeed Kevin Johnson as Sacramento mayor.