Demonstrators Urge Making Long Beach A "Sanctuary City"; One LB Councilmember Wary, Others Mum; Sac'to Bills In Limbo, Trump DOJ Threatens Some Cities With Fed Grant Funds Cut-Off Unless Locals Cooperate With Fed Immig Agents
Special to LBREPORT.com by Barry Saks
Special to LBREPORT.com by Barry Saks
|(Aug. 9, 2017, 1:45 p.m.) -- About 20 individuals, mostly young and people of color, stood on the corner of Willow Street and Santa Fe Avenue on Friday, Aug. 4 and chanted pro-immigrant slogans demanding that Long Beach become a sanctuary city.
The Filipino Migrant Center, which is part of Sanctuary LB (Long Beach), organized the protest. While most of the chants were in English, many were in Spanish and a small number in Tagalog (Filipino). Interspersed among the chants, horns honked in solidarity while at least one hostile voice was shouted from a car.
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Supportive chants included: "No Ban, No Wall, Sanctuary for All"; "What do we want? Sanctuary. When do we want it? Now"; "Move ICE [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement], get out the way ICE, get out the way"; "Education, not deportation"; "No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here"; "When immigrant rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back"; "ICE out of Long Beach"; "No borders, no nations, stop the deportations"; "Tell me what you want, what you really want? Justice. Tell me what you need, really need? Sanctuary. How are we going to get it? People power."
In a phone interview after the event, Long Beach Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez said "I don't oppose a local (sanctuary city) ordinance. I don't know what a local ordinance honestly would do..We can do one, which would be symbolic, but it's not going to...really have an impact...We have so many individuals that are not only living in Long Beach, they may be undocumented but working outside the city. So what good is it for us just to have a local Long Beach ordinance per se than a statewide one, where everyone is covered?"
Neither Mayor Garcia nor any of LB's other eight City Councilmembers were available for comment.
SB 54, the "CA Values Act" authored by state Senate Pres. Pro Tem Kevin deLeon (D, Los Angeles)) is a now-pending proposed statewide measure. It would limit communication between federal immigration agents and local law enforcement with exceptions for serious and violent crimes. Proponents say the bill will ease deportation fears and prevent the Trump administration from using local law enforcement to facilitate federal deportations; opponents say the bill's exceptions are too narrow and would still make it harder for federal agents to apprehend suspects before they're released from a local jail. Details in the measure's most recently amended text visible as of Aug. 9 can be viewed here.
The City of Long Beach was one of the earliest endorsers of SB 54 (and a related measure SB 31, see below), stemming from a Feb. 7, 2017 City Council item agendized by Councilwoman Gonzalez joined by Councilmembers Pearce, Uranga and Vice Mayor Richardson. The Council approved the measure on a 7-0 vote (Yes: Gonzalez, Pearce, Price, Supernaw, Uranga, Austin and Richardson; Mungo and Andrews absent.) The two absent Councilmembers were visible earlier in the Council meeting; Councilwoman Mungo, the Council's only registered Republican) vanished on the vote, but returned after the agenda item for the remainder of the Council meeting. [Detailed LBREPORT.com coverage of LB Council action here and here.]
In April, SB 54 passed the state Senate (27-12), has cleared two Assembly committees and now waits action in the Assembly Appropriations Committee (where Assembly Dem leadership can effectively advance it or withhold it from Assembly floor action.)
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck has endorsed SB 54. L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell opposes it as does the CA State Sheriffs' Association, which has urged Gov. Brown not to sign it if it passes in its current form.
CA Governor Jerry Brown recently told NBC's Meet the Press that he favors changes [that he didn't specify] in some of SB 54's current language. "The goal here is to block and not to collaborate with abuse of federal power," Gov. Brown said. :It is a balancing act. It does require some sensitivity. And that’s why I take a more nuanced and careful approach to dealing with what is a difficult problem. Because you do have people who are not here legally, they've committed crimes. They have no business in the United States in the manner in which they’ve come and conducted themselves subsequently."
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has warned cities that declare themselves (or U.S. DOJ views as) "sanctuary" jurisdictions (including San Bernardino and Stockton, no mention of Long Beach at this point) that they risk losing DOJ-administered, Congressionally-appropriated crime fighting grants if they refuse to cooperate and share information with federal immigration agents. The City of Chicago has threatened to sue to prevent a threatened cut off of such federal funds.
SB 31 (most recent amended text here) would prohibit a state or local agency or a public employee from providing the federal government information regarding a person's religious beliefs, practices, or affiliation when the information is for compiling a database. It includes an exception for targeted investigations of an individual based on reasonable suspicion that the individual has engaged in or been the victim of criminal activity and there is a clear connection between the criminal activity and the information collected; another exception provides religious accommodations.
Alex Montances of the Filipino Migrant Center said in an email before the event that "Long Beach should be a place where all its residents are cared for and protected, not a place where immigrant mothers, fathers, and children are afraid to walk to school, work, or even outside their house because they fear ICE and deportation raids. Mayor Robert Garcia and City Council need to pass a local Sanctuary City policy here in Long Beach to protect our immigrant community. We need to make sure that our City is not participating, funding, or assisting Federal immigration enforcement."
Leanna Noble attended the protest and said, "We need a local sanctuary city ordinance that' got teeth, that will make sure that all of the residents...have their rights protected and that they can live here in peace and safety." Tamara Romero was also present and said she attended in solidarity with the immigrant community and wanted Long Beach to have its own sanctuary ordinance because many immigrants live here in fear."
According to the Facebook event page of Sanctuary Long Beach, the group plans an event on Wednesday, Aug. 9 at 5:30 p.m., at Del Amo Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue, and a week later on Wednesday, Aug. 16 5:30 p.m., at Pine Avenue and Broadway.
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