LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles City Council Wednesday approved three motions aimed at counteracting new federal policies on immigration.
In 10-0 votes, the council moved to draw up a plan preparing the city for a possible loss of federal funds; to have the city attorney draft an ordinance that would prevent city employees from participating in any program to register citizens based on their religion; and to move forward with a plan to contribute $2 million to a legal defense fund for immigrants facing deportation.
In light of President Donald Trump’s threat to cut federal funding to so-called “sanctuary cities,” the council voted to have staff assemble a list of federal funding the city receives and also draw up a plan to address the budgetary shortfall that would result from the loss of federal funds.
While not fitting the typical definition of a sanctuary city, where immigrants residing in the country illegally are shielded from federal authorities, the Los Angeles Police Department for decades has followed Special Order 40, which states officers will not detain a person for the sole purpose of determining their immigration status.
The motion in particular mentions Special Order 40 and directs staff to prepare for the possibility that Congress and the president may act to remove federal funds from cities that have similar policies.
The council directed the city attorney to draft an ordinance that would prohibit city employees from participating in any program to register individuals based on their religion or spiritual faith, or that would result indiscrimination on those bases.
The council also instructed staff to prepare a report on implementing a possible $2 million contribution to a legal defense fund for immigrants in the Los Angeles area facing deportation. The idea for the fund was announced by Mayor Eric Garcetti in December and would total $10 million, with $3 million coming from L.A. County and $5 million from the private sector.
The vote on the religious registry comes in response to the idea that Trump may support or implement a registry of all Muslims in the country.
The motion, which was introduced by Councilman Paul Krekorian, states that Trump “engaged in rhetoric that suggested an unfair scapegoating of Muslim Americans based solely on their faith. Our city should take these statements and actions seriously, and we should never tolerate or accept them. We must never facilitate or cooperate with such an abrogation of our most cherished values.”
Trump was asked about a Muslim registry by reporters during the campaign and on several occasions suggested that he supported the idea.
In November 2015, when asked by an NBC reporter if he would implement a registry as president, he said, “I would certainly implement that, absolutely.”
After the election, a spokesman for Trump issued a statement maintaining that the president never advocated for the idea of a Muslim registry.
It is unclear if Los Angeles could face a loss of federal funds, since Trump’s executive order declares that sanctuary jurisdictions would be determined by the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
However, Los Angeles’ status as a sanctuary city may be decided by the state, as Trump threatened in a Fox News interview last weekend to cut funding to all of California if it moves forward with pending legislation that would provide statewide sanctuary for immigrants and prevent local law enforcement
from helping federal authorities on immigration issues.
Trump’s executive order argues that sanctuary jurisdictions harm the country.
“These jurisdictions have caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our Republic,” Trump’s executive order says.
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.”