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.