More than two-thirds of Los Angeles County residents support the idea of making their hometown a “sanctuary city,” according to a new poll released Monday by Loyola Marymount University.
“With such a high level of support for sanctuary cities, ICE enforcement would be more difficult. In our survey people are sending a clear message that ICE is not welcome here,” said Fernando Guerra, professor of political science and director of the study.
The poll found that 40 percent of those surveyed said they “strongly support” a sanctuary city where they live, with 28 percent saying they “somewhat support” the idea. Fifteen percent said they “somewhat oppose” their town being a sanctuary city, and 17 percent “strongly oppose.”
The sanctuary city question was one of dozens asked by the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles as part of its Forecast LA conference. The conference was held Wednesday at LMU.
Although there is no official legal definition of a sanctuary city, many cities in California have voted to declare themselves one. The city of Los Angeles has declined to take the title even though its practice of limiting its cooperation with the federal government on deportations fits the typical definition.
The issue of sanctuary cities has gained prominence in the national discussion since President Donald Trump has threatened to cut federal funding to them.
Eighty-four percent of Latinos said they strongly or somewhat supported the idea of sanctuary cities, compared to 67 percent of African-Americans, 57 percent of Asian-Americans and 51 percent of whites.
“We found as the generations get younger, the support increases,” StudyLA Associate Director Brianne Gilbert said. “While all generations were supportive of their city being a sanctuary city, millennials were the most supportive, at 74 percent.”
The survey was conducted by telephone and online in January and February, among 1,200 Los Angeles city residents and 1,200 residents in the rest of the county. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
The city and county of Los Angeles were among three dozen jurisdictions filing a court brief Wednesday in opposition to President Donald Trump’s executive order threatening to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities.
The brief was filed in federal court in San Francisco in support of that city’s pending lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Trump’s proposed crackdown on cities that fail to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
The court papers argue that pulling funding from cities would threaten public health and safety, while noting that forcing local law enforcement agencies to become arms of federal immigration agencies would lead to a loss of cooperation between immigrants and police, with victims or witness of crimes opting not to come forward out of fear of deportation.
“Today, 36 cities and counties across the nation, representing over 24 million people, joined together to stand up for the health and safety of their communities and oppose President Trump’s ill-conceived and unconstitutional executive order that would require local jurisdictions to perform federal immigration work or risk losing unrelated federal funding,” said Kelly Dermody, an attorney for the coalition of jurisdictions. “Local jurisdictions are in the best position to set these priorities and they understand that driving some residents underground in fear of any interaction with local authorities makes every resident in that community, and those adjacent, less safe.”
Trump signed an order in January threatening a crackdown on cities that fail to report arrests of people potentially subject to deportation.
“Sanctuary jurisdictions across the United States willfully violate federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States,” the order states.
“… We cannot faithfully execute the immigration laws of the United States if we exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement.”
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday reinforced that stance, saying local jurisdictions seeking U.S. Department of Justice grants must first demonstrate they are not sanctuary cities.
Sessions said jurisdictions must prove they are in compliance with Section 1373 of U.S. Code Title 8, which requires notification of federal officials about the immigration status of people in local custody. The policy was issued under the Barack Obama administration in 2016, but was not enforced.
“The American people know that when cities and states refuse to help enforce immigration laws, our nation is less safe,” Sessions said.
Southland and California elected officials and activists wasted no time today lashing out at President Donald Trump’s executive actions calling for construction of a wall along the Mexican border and slashing funding for so-called “sanctuary” cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities and substantially beefing up the ranks and enforcement authority of border agents.
“These are serious times that call for serious solutions,” said Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Los Angeles in response. “Yes, border security is a crucial pillar of comprehensive immigration reform, but a huge wall won’t make us any safer, morally upright, reduce the deficit or energize our economy.
“We need reform that provides real border security, unites families, protects American workers and offers an earned pathway to citizenship — something that Democrats and I will continue to champion in the face of the crazy conservatism of Trump world,” he said.
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., said Trump’s orders will “harm public safety, tear families apart and jeopardize national security.”
“Forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for a wall isn’t a solution, it’s a political gesture,” Harris said. “And telling cities they must deny public safety, education and health care services to children and families living within their jurisdiction will not make us more secure, it will mean fewer crimes reported and more families living in fear.”
Rusty Hicks, executive secretary treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, said the organization would continue to stand in support of the roughly 1 million immigrants without legal status living in Los Angeles County.
“We have already strengthened protections for immigrant workers in collective bargaining agreements,” Hicks said. “Now, with our state legislators and county Board of Supervisors, we will grow the 100 attorneys we have already organized into a much larger force to make sure every immigrant has a lawyer to defend their rights to a fair process.
“For decades, Los Angeles and California have been stronger, more progressive and more prosperous than the rest of the nation,” he said.
“Unfortunately, President Trump has chosen to take our nation down the dark path of division and exclusion.”
Building a border wall was a hallmark of Trump’s presidential campaign, and he continues to insist that although the United States will be moving ahead with construction, Mexico will ultimately foot the bill — something Mexican leaders have steadfastly denied.
“I’m just telling you there will be a payment,” Trump said in an interview with ABC News. “It will be in a form — perhaps a complicated form. And you have to understand what I’m doing is good for the United States. It’s also going to be good for Mexico. We want to have a very stable, very solid Mexico.”
California’s new Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, issued a statement saying, “It is important to put these White House executive actions in context.”
According to Becerra, executive orders do not change existing law nor can they contradict existing law. He noted they can be challenged in court for “violating constitutional and legal standards in their enforcement.”
Becerra said his office is “prepared to protect the public safety and general welfare of all Californians as well as their privacy and property rights,” adding the state “will protect the rights of all of its people from unwarranted intrusion from any source, including the federal government.”
Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) called the president’s actions “ deeply troubling.”
“With today’s executive orders, this president has transformed his anti-immigrant campaign rhetoric into destructive action which is intolerant, fiscally irresponsible, and dangerous, Roybal-Allard said, adding it would force “Local jurisdictions will be forced to choose between their share of federal funding and keeping faith with their local communities.”
Pres. Trump has yet to take action on his promise to deport anyone in the country illegally, especially those with criminal backgrounds, or to reverse former president Barack Obama’s executive actions to protect people brought to the country illegally as children, often referred to as Dreamers.
DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans), temporarily normalized the status of more than 750,000 undocumented immigrants, allowing them to legally work in the U.S. among other benefits.
Trump’s supporters believed overturning Obama’s two executive orders would be among his first actions after taking office, and were disappointed his action on the border wall Wednesday did not also include an order to end DACA and DAPA.
Sen. Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) said in a written statement Wednesday that he “is encouraged that the Trump Administration and the U.S. Senate are working together to resolve our immigration crisis through consensus legislative action, not executive fiat or alarmist rhetoric.
“Hardcore criminals should rightly be the focus of deportations, not hard-working families and students,” Vidak said.
He said Trump Chief of Staff Reince Priebus has made it clear “Trump has no immediate plans to deport the youngsters, but would instead work with the House and Senate leadership “to get a long-term solution on that issue.”
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said Monday that DACA is “unconstitutional and has to be replaced,” ideally in conjunction with “measurers that ensure that our immigration laws are being enforced.” He said he believes however, that there is broad consensus that Dreamers should not be deported but allowed to stay in the country.
Trump’s actions coincided with the first meeting, scheduled for Wednesday night, of a Los Angeles City Council committee on immigrant affairs.’
Among the items on the panel’s agenda is a reaffirmation of Los Angeles Police Department Special Order 40, which prevents officers from stopping people solely to question them on their immigration status. The department also does not detain people based solely on their immigration status.
Mayor Eric Garcetti, however, said the city does cooperate with immigration authorities, “particularly in cases that involve serious crimes, and always comply with constitutional detainer requests.’’
“What we don’t do is ask local police officers to enforce federal immigration laws, and that’s an official LAPD policy that has been enforced for nearly 40 years,” he said. “That is for everyone’s good, because trust between police and the people they serve is absolutely essential to effective law enforcement.
“Everyone in L.A. should feel safe stepping forward if they have witnessed a crime or been victimized themselves — and immigration status shouldn’t interfere with the cooperation and partnership we need to keep our neighborhoods safe,” Garcetti said.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell reinforced that position Wednesday on behalf of his department. McDonnell said the president’s “executive order does not change the mission of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Our priority continues to be protecting our public … Our department policy clearly states that our deputies do not ask for one’s immigration status. Immigration enforcement remains a federal responsibility.”