Resolution Seeks to Officially Declare Los Angeles a ‘City of Sanctuary’

September 8, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Two City Council members introduced a resolution today seeking to brand Los Angeles a “city of sanctuary” dedicated to “protecting the human rights of all our residents.”

The move by Council President Herb Wesson and Councilman Gil Cedillo follows their receipt of a report on Thursday that civil rights attorney Peter Schey submitted to the Immigrant Affairs, Civil Rights, and Equity Committee, which Cedillo chairs and which Wesson is a member of. The report included a series of recommendations for the city to undertake in response to recent immigration policies announced by President Donald Trump.

While there is no legal definition of a sanctuary city, it generally applies to municipalities that limit cooperation with federal authorities on immigration enforcement. Embracing the term has become a way for cities to openly defy Trump, who has threatened to cut off federal funding to sanctuary cities.

“It’s a declaratory statement of our values, of our vision, of our commitments,” Cedillo told City News Service.

At the committee meeting Thursday, Cedillo said he intended to submit a sanctuary city motion, but what was submitted at the City Council meeting was a resolution. A motion generally changes an existing law or creates a new one, while a resolution is generally a public declaration that does not change or create any laws. Cedillo said he submitted a resolution because declaring the city a sanctuary does not require any change in laws.

It’s not certain when the resolution would come up for a vote.

Although Los Angeles has long limited its cooperation with the feds on immigration, it has not taken on the official label of sanctuary city, and it is unclear how much support the resolution will have from Mayor Eric Garcetti.

The mayor has resisted calling for Los Angeles to embrace the term because he says it is often used by those looking to harm cities that have friendly immigration policies.

“It is not a term that has meaning,” Garcetti said in an interview on radio station KNX Thursday. “I’m not going to buy into a frame that somebody else who’s attacking immigrants uses.”

Cedillo said he agreed with the mayor’s assessment but believed they could find common ground.

“We agree with the mayor. The mayor has been an extraordinary champion in this area, and has been absolutely responsive from the beginning, and I think we are in concert, and his points are well taken,” Cedillo said.

The Los Angeles Police Department has had a longstanding policy of not initiating contact with an individual based solely on his or her immigration status and does not give immigration agents access to its jails or inmates unless they have a federal warrant. Because of those policies, Los Angeles is often referred to as a sanctuary city, though it has never officially embraced the term as other cities have, including San Francisco and Santa Ana.

Schey, a civil rights attorney, argued in the report that Los Angeles has wide discretion in setting its own policies on immigration and that because none of its current laws are in violation of federal law, Trump’s “showboating about penalties against sanctuary cities has no basis in law and is primarily intended to dazzle his base and intimidate local officials.”

Schey also told the committee that embracing the term was an important symbolic move.

“People seem to have strong views on this name thing. My stance has always been that’s what’s important. Ultimately, yes, that sort of symbolic statement, ‘We are a city of sanctuary, we are a city of refuge,’ etc., I think it’s important. It sets a certain tone,” he said.

Cedillo said part of reason for introducing the resolution was in reaction to the Trump administration’s move Tuesday to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program which has shielded immigrants who were brought to the country illegally when they were children from deportation.

“With the changed circumstance, with the announcement on Tuesday, it turned out that we had a scheduled immigration committee meeting, and it turned out that we had a report from our advocate, and it turned out we had a deeper understanding of what it is to be a city of sanctuary,” Cedillo said. “We are confident there will be no fiscal impact on the city, no adverse consequences on the city and we want to send that message to the (DACA recipients) who are here to continue to be engaged in the civic life of this city.”

The resolution cites the LAPD’s policy on immigrant enforcement, Trump’s DACA announcement, and the city’s history of adopting policies protecting all of its residents regardless of immigration status as some of the reasons for the resolution.

Schey’s report also recommended the city take steps to help immigrants in the country illegally and DACA recipients from being detained by federal officials by facilitating legal advice and representation for them. The report also recommended the city enact a comprehensive anti-discrimination ordinance, and decriminalize minor offenses likely to be committed by low-income residents.

Council Moves to Counteract Trump’s Immigration Policies

February 9, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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.

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