Council Steps Up to Battle Trump on Immigration

February 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles City Council continues to prepare for a likely battle with President Donald Trump over his aggressive executive orders on immigration.

The council voted late last week to direct the city attorney to report on how it can protect immigrants from expanded federal efforts at deportation, while Councilman Gil Cedillo introduced a motion supporting state Senate Bill 54, known as the California Values Act, which would ensure that state and local resources are not used to fuel mass deportations.

Trump recently issued a number of executive orders that would add thousands of Border Patrol Agents and immigration officers, build a wall on the Mexican border and cut funding for so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

Trump has threatened to deport up to 3 million immigrants who are in the country illegally, and an estimated 850,000 of Los Angeles’ 3.8 million residents are not currently citizens.

“Beginning today, the United States of America gets back control of its borders,” Trump said Jan. 25 during a speech to employees of the Department of Homeland Security.

The council’s motion asking for the city attorney report also directs the city administrative officer and the chief legislative analyst to prepare a report on the potential economic impacts of deportations on the city’s economy, and recommendations for protecting city programs from “the negative impacts of federal actions that target immigrants.”

LA CommitteeImigration MeetingFredy Cejas

Over 350 people packed the Jan. 25 meeting, held just hours after President Donald Trump announced plans to deport millions of immigrants in the country without legal status. Photo by Fredy Ceja/Office Councilman Gil Cedillo.

The motion, which was approved 10-0, was forwarded to the full council by its Ad Hoc Committee on Immigration, attended by a packed house of more than 350 people during its inaugural meeting on Jan. 25.

About two dozen took their turns speaking to the committee against Trump’s actions announced just hours earlier.

“Our friends in immigrant detention can’t be with us tonight but I’d like to think that they would ask you to respond forcefully and bravely to the xenophobic and racist executive orders that were issued today,” said Jordan Cunnings, a lawyer with Public Counsel who works with immigrants in detention centers.

The executive orders added a significant layer of urgency to the work of the committee, which was created by the council in the days after Trump’s election win in November and is one of a number of moves it has made in opposing the president’s immigration policies.

“What we see today with the executive orders is an attempt to legislate and create laws based on a person’s class, ethnicity or religion, and that’s a dangerous path, something of which we haven’t seen since World War II when we interned a number of Japanese Americans, and we are now on that path,” Councilman Jose Huizar said during the committee’s meeting.

“And who ever would have thought it? I honestly never thought I would see it in my lifetime.”

Trump’s orders could also have significant ramifications for Los Angeles, which receives roughly $500 million in federal support annually.

While not fitting the typical definition of a “sanctuary city,” Los Angeles has a policy of separating the work of the Los Angeles Police Department from that of federal immigration officials, and it is not clear if that would put it in danger of losing its federal funding.

Trump’s orders declare that “sanctuary jurisdictions” would be determined by the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

Even as the meeting was ongoing, more news trickled in. Councilwoman Nury Martinez announced she received a news alert on her phone that said Trump will publish a weekly list of crimes committed by immigrants in the country without legal permission as a way to pressure sanctuary cities.

“If that is not a declaration of war and intimidation, I don’t know what is,” Martinez said.

Representatives from the Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles Unified School District and the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees also addressed the committee.

LAPD Deputy Chief Robert Arcos gave the council a report on the department’s Special Order 40, a policy dating to 1979 that states officers will not detain a person for the sole purpose of determining their immigration status.

The immigration committee passed a motion voicing support for Special Order 40, which outlines the Los Angeles Police Department’s decades-old policy of officers not instigating police activity for the sole purpose of determining an individual’s immigration status.

The committee also approved a declaration of opposition to any federal policy that would reverse immigration relief created under President Barack Obama’s administration and a request for a report from the city attorney on the legal efforts the city can take to protect the immigrant community from expanded deportations.

The council and Mayor Eric Garcetti have also committed $2 million to a $10 million legal defense fund for immigrants facing deportation.

“With the County of Los Angeles home to 1 million of the estimated 11million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, and the majority of those immigrants intertwined in all levels of life here in Los Angeles — including social, civic and economic — the deportation of any sizable percentage of that community would have a devastating impact on those immigrants, their children, as well as potentially, the city’s economy,” the motion states.

Angelenos to Join First Lady for State of the Union Address

January 19, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A teacher, a construction worker, a police captain and the creator of a prison education program — all hailing from the Los Angeles area — are among 22 people who will have close-up views of President Barack Obama when he delivers his State of the Union address tomorrow.

Seated in the same box as first lady Michelle Obama during the speech in Washington, D.C., the Southland residents will join fellow honorees including an astronaut, a doctor who worked to fight the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, a former prisoner of the Cuban government and several letter-writers whose stories inspired the president.

They are the latest group to be recognized as part of tradition started by President Ronald Reagan during his State of the Union addresses.

LeDaya Epps, a Compton native who surmounted several life obstacles to graduate as one of just two female construction workers from a union apprenticeship program, is among the group of local residents who will be attending the speech.

Also attending will be Katrice Mubiru, a Los Angeles Unified School District teacher who wrote a letter to the president urging him to support career-technical education for K-12 students.

Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Phillip C. Tingirides is being honored for helping create a community-based approach to policing in the Watts area, which has seen a 50 percent drop in violent crime in recent years.

The fourth local honoree is 27-year-old Prophet Walker, a Carson resident who served a six-year prison sentence for robbery, and created a prison education program to help his fellow inmates obtain two-year college degrees. After getting out of prison, he earned a degree in engineering and has seen other participants in his program get accepted to universities. He also continued to advocate for lowering recidivism among former inmates by starting Watts United Weekend, an organization that runs weekend camp retreats focused on helping ex-prisoners succeed in life after incarceration.

In what the White House press office is calling “SOTU Spoilers,” the president over the last two weeks has been on the road touting a number of key points expected to be detailed in his speech Tuesday. Improvements in the economy, job creation, and the housing market since the Great Recession are all on the agenda, which is expected to include executive actions the president has taken, and other executive actions and legislation he will propose to keep the economy moving forward.

The president’s speech will be broadcast live Tuesday at 6 p.m. (pacific time)  on many local network television and cable stations; check local listings for details.

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