San Bernardino Sent a Letter to Trump and it Backfired

A written request for federal assistance with growing crime in the City of San Bernardino is generating some controversy, with many residents decrying a secretive process and fearing increased scrutiny from the Trump Administration as a result.

San Bernardino leaders, it turns out, wrote a letter to President Trump last year, asking for his help with a crime rate that is quickly spiraling out of control.

“President Trump had gone to Chicago, or called out Chicago,” for its crime, said City Manager Mark Scott. “We listened to that, and we were saying, ‘We’ll take help.’ ”

San Bernardino never heard back from the president. But it did hear from constituents, many of whom are angry that it was ever sent in the first place.

First, there’s the content of the letter, much of which was dedicated to marijuana enforcement and was vague enough to invite a swath of different interpretations.

“It’s been interpreted as if we were saying send us the National Guard,” said City Manager Mark Scott. “That’s not what we were asking for.”

Then there’s the fact that there was no public discussion about it beforehand. The City Attorney has already warned council members that it might have violated open meetings laws as a result.

Now, many residents fear that it could put the city in the crosshairs of a trigger-happy administration when it comes to immigration enforcement. Many are fearing mass deportations as a result of stepped up scrutiny brought on by the missive.

“This letter is creating a lot of fear in our community,” said Miriam Nieto of civic group San Bernardino Generation Now. “If you meant for this letter to help our community, know that at the moment, it is not.”

Some city leaders say they regret sending the letter. Others stand by the decision, arguing that the city desperately needs help. There were 62 homicides in San Bernardino last year. That’s a 41% increase from 2015 and the deadliest in more than two decades.


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