Sanctuary Silicon Valley
Thank you Governor Jerry Brown for signing the California Values Act into law and making our golden state a sanctuary state!
What's a sanctuary city, again?
It is cities like those listed above who have passed a city ordinance so that city employees don't enforce federal immigration laws either at all or in specific situations. The specific ordinances vary. For example, one might tell police staff only to check citizenship status in case of felony conviction and public school staff not to check citizenship status of students. To learn more about sanctuary city policies, scroll down and read the Sanctuary Updates section below on this page.
Who made this website?
My name is Jen Mazzon, and I live in Menlo Park. My neighbors got a group together to brainstorm how we can embrace inclusion in our community, and we thought that making Menlo Park a sanctuary city will be a step in the right direction. We successfully worked with our community to get a "Safe City" ordinance passed in Menlo Park. Now thanks to SB54, all of California is a place where immigrants won't be afraid to get help from the police, take their kids to school, and fully participate in our communities.
Sanctuary City Talking Points
- Communities are safer and healthier as a sanctuary cities.
- Crime is lower and economies are stronger in sanctuary counties vs. non-sanctuary counties (e.g. Los Angeles and San Francisco)
- Undocumented immigrants will only report crimes if they do not feel at risk of deportation. According to the President Obama’s Taskforce on 21st Century Policing, “immigrants often fear approaching police officers when they are victims of and witnesses to crimes and when local police are entangled with federal immigration enforcement.“ A study conducted by the University of Illinois similarly found that 44 percent of Latinos are less likely to contact police officers if they have been the victim of a crime because they fear that police officers will use this interaction as an opportunity to inquire about their immigration status or that of people they know.
- Existing city policies are nonbinding and therefore do not build community trust.
- Department policies are “guidelines” that can be revised at any time.
- Trust in city employees (e.g. police, school authorities) is low in marginalized communities. A relationship of trust between a city’s immigrant residents and our local agencies, including police, and schools, is essential to carrying out basic local functions. That trust is threatened when local agencies are involved in immigration enforcement.
- Broad civic engagement is stunted because undocumented immigrants are a marginalized community that is scared to participate and risk separation from their families.
- Local and state sanctuary city ordinances are constitutional.
- Immigration enforcement is under the purview of the federal government; state and local authorities are not legally required to assist federal immigration enforcement efforts.
- City employees still follow a simple “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule.
- A sanctuary city ordinance will ensure that city employees continue to take a neutral stance regarding community members’ immigration status: they will be required not to investigate people’s immigration status, nor to report people’s immigration status to federal authorities.
- There is a clear exception for people who are arrested or convicted of felony charges.
- If a person gets arrested for or convicted of a felony, police can both investigate and report immigration status to federal authorities.
- Please read the full text of the model sanctuary city ordinance (has been in place in San Francisco for decades) below.
- Every child needs our full community support.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics have stated: “It is our strongly held belief that all children should be afforded the right to attend school, visit a doctor’s office, or approach a police officer for help without fearing for their safety. Parents should be able to attend school events and parent-teacher conferences, seek medical care, and request police assistance for themselves and their children without concern that their families will be torn apart as a result. Subjecting California families to programs and policies that threaten these central functions of parenting could pose innumerable, grave consequences to the social, psychological, and physical well-being of children.”
- The recent Executive Order gives unilateral power to ICE agents
- As we’ve seen in the recent deportation raids, ICE agents are starting to cast a wider net to detain immigrants.
- California Senate Bill #54, the California Values Act that will make all of California a sanctuary state, has passed!!
- Penalizing sanctuary states / cities is likely unconstitutional.
- Per the 10th amendment, the federal government cannot coerce states to assist with immigration enforcement.
- If the feds withhold funds from sanctuary states/cities, the feds will get sued – actually they're already getting sued about this.
Archive of Sanctuary Updates
August 31, 2017
There are important pro immigrant efforts afoot which would benefit from you taking action to support them right now:
- California Senate Bill 54 which would make California a sanctuary state (see this Sacramento Bee article for a quick refresher on SB 54), and which passed in the California Senate in April, was placed last week in the “suspense file” used by the State Assembly Appropriations committee. The legislature uses the suspense file to temporarily hold bills containing expenditures of $150,000 or more to provide the committee with a better view of the aggregate fiscal impact of a bundle of bills. Our understanding is that SB 54 is scheduled for a vote TOMORROW, Sept 1st.
- Please call as many members of the Appropriations committee as you can (listed here: http://apro.assembly.ca.gov/membersstaff) to voice your strong support for the bill.
- This is also a good time to contact aides in Governor Jerry Brown's office to reiterate your strong support for SB 54. The relevant aides are Dan Torres and Dan Seaman:
Here is a sample script that you can use when you make these calls: "My name is ________, and I am calling to ask [Governor Brown] to support the California Values Act, SB 54. We cannot use California's resources to help the Trump administration deport our community members. Will the Governor support the California Values Act?"
Lastly, on September 7th, there will be a for a gathering at the state capitol with the ICE out of California Coalition
When: September 7, 2017
Time: 9 am - 4 pm
Where: State Capitol 1315 10th St, Sacramento, CA 95814
2. Trump is expected to make a policy announcement about DACA by September 5th. For a quick refresher on DACA, see (or listen to) this NPR news article. General consensus is that Trump will either end or curtail the DACA program that allows young people in our communities who were brought here as children to stay in our communities legally and without hiding in the shadows. The National immigration Law Center has started a petition to ask Trump to keep DACA in place: http://action.nilc.org/page/s/tell-president-trump-defend-daca – please add your name!
3. ACLU People Power groups from a few different cities in San Mateo County banded together on June 19th and had a meeting with County Sheriff Bolanos (which I reported in my last update to you). Since then we have formed a Peninsula People Power group that meets monthly in the Atherton Library. Please contact me if you would like to attend a meeting and I’ll give you the next meeting date and time.
- At the June 19th meeting, Assistant Sheriff Mark Robbins and Captain Paul Kunkel were also in attendance. While we did not succeed in getting Sheriff Bolanos’ agreement on all of our requested policy changes, he agreed to, and implemented several significant ones:
- Added that a judicial warrant is required to arrest or detain someone solely for immigration violations
- Removed the Sheriff’s right to approve from this section
- Clarified that if an inmate is scheduled to be released, they will not hold him/her for any extra time, pending the arrival of an ICE agent
- Added that national origin, language, and immigration status alone are of no bearing on the decision to arrest
- Added that national origin and language to clause on equal enforcement of the law and provision of services (immigration status was already in it)
- Now prohibits surveillance of a person or group based on racial or bias based profiling to include all categories already in policy, and added language and immigration status
The big remaining area of dispute is the Sheriff’s Office Policy to honor ICE requests for notification of release dates, which he refused to change in the meeting, and in the communication since.
For those that want to dive in deeper, copies of the relevant policies (current editions) and the list of action items are in this public folder.
Last but not least, and to end on a positive note, the Menlo Park City Council did give final approval to adopt a Safe City Ordinance back in June. While the ordinance has more exceptions than needed and desired, it represents a step in the right direction that the city council will review in 1 year. You can read the full text of the Safe City Ordinance here: http://www.menlopark.org/DocumentCenter/View/14891). Immigrant advocates in the city of San Mateo are actively promoting a similar Safe City Ordinance to their city council.
June 19, 2017
There are two training sessions – this Wednesday in Palo Alto and next Wednesday in Mountain View – that will enable you to become a legal observer of ICE raids. As a trained legal observer, you will be alerted to local ICE raids and have the opportunity to provide documentation of the raids that can assist detainees in their legal defense efforts to avoid deportation and separation from their families. You can find the brochure for this training here. I recommend this training – I attended a Rapid Response training a few months back and signed up as a volunteer. Please RSVP if you plan to attend.
Tomorrow the Menlo Park City Council will vote on whether to give final approval to the Safe City Ordinance that they approved provisionally in May. While the ordinance has more exceptions than needed and desired, it represents a step in the right direction that the city council will review in 1 year. You can read the full text of the Safe City Ordinance here: http://www.menlopark.org/DocumentCenter/View/14891). If you want to get an ordinance passed in your city, let me know and we can meet up or talk on the phone.
Earlier today a group of about 20 residents from various cities in San Mateo County met with San Mateo County Sheriff Bolanos and a few other members of his staff. We followed up with him on the ACLU People Power “Freedom City” model policies.
- We asked Sheriff Bolanos to stop responding to ICE Requests for Information, particularly in the case of people against whom charges have been dropped or who do not have prior convictions – the Sheriff refused to stop. He stated that he would rather have someone who has been arrested with probable cause be deported by ICE than get released back to the community before their day in court and/or after being found innocent in court.
- My interpretation of this response is that our county law enforcement is essentially circumventing due process by helping ICE deport people who have not yet been found guilty in our courts.
- Sheriff Bolanos also said that, if the law requires that that he notifies ICE only in response to Requests for Information accompanied by a Judicial Warrant, he would be a happy to do so. He suggested that we come back in 3-6 months and check in again.
There has been some solid coverage of immigrant issues in the national news over the last few weeks. Here are a few articles that I found particularly informative:
May 16, 2017
There’s been so much going on in the national news over the last month that the fear and stress of our immigrant communities – particularly those with undocumented family members – has gotten a tad lost in the shuffle of Russia investigations, etc. While CNN reported that deportations have slowed down a bit, they also noted that “In the first two months since the inauguration, ICE arrested roughly one-third more people than in the previous year, and more than double the number of non-criminal immigrants than the previous year.“
What’s even more scary about these arrests is that these people are getting sent to privately run immigration detention centers. Per the Human Rights Watch, the immigrant detention system “is notorious for its punitive and often inhumane conditions, including subpar medical care, which has contributed to deaths in custody that might have been prevented. In the context of the existing due process crisis in immigration adjudications, the administration has also announced plans to expand fast-track deportation procedures that have demonstrably harmed asylum seekers’ and others’ ability to get fair hearings.”
To counteract that bad news, here are a few bright spots:
- The executive order designed to defund sanctuary jurisdictions was successfully struck down in court, leaving our local sanctuary city and county budgets intact.
- In response to the new Texas state law prohibiting sanctuary jurisdictions, the Mayor of Texas town El Cenizo vows his city will not rescind its safe haven ordinance. "If they want to throw me in jail, go ahead," he said. "I strongly believe in what we're doing...The true reasoning behind this is because nobody should have to live in fear of the people who they expect to protect them and work for them." Other Texas cities are planning to sue the state of Texas over this issue: "Know this law has nothing to do with public safety and everything to do with scapegoating immigrants for their political gain," said Austin District 4 Council Member Greg Casar.
- Yesterday, supporters of CA Senate Bill 54 (aka the California Values Act that would make California a sanctuary state if passed), staged a rally outside the state capitol steps.
What can you do to support the sanctuary city cause? Here are three ideas:
- Attend an ACLU People Power event
- Attend the San Francisco Debate on the CA Senate Bill 54 ("sanctuary state" bill) at 7pm on May 22nd (RSVP here).
- Attend your next local city council meeting and ask them to consider adopting a sanctuary city ordinance, updating police department policies to follow the ACLU’s model freedom city policies, and/or writing an official letter of support for CA Senate Bill 54, or a sanctuary ordinance.
April 8, 2017
The California Senate passed Senate Bill #54, the “California Values Act” that will prevent the use of state and local resources for federal immigration enforcement actions. The voting went down on party lines with all democrats voting for SB 54 and republicans voting against. While this was an important first step in making SB 54 a state law, there are 3 more hurdles: the bill now has to go through California Assembly committees (which may entail changes/amendments to the bill), subsequently it must pass a majority State Assembly vote, and then it must be signed into law by Governor Brown. If all that goes down this year, it would go into effect on January 1, 2018.
I spoke yesterday with Zachery Ross, a Senior Field Representative on Marc Berman’s staff to understand Assemblyman Berman’s stance on SB 54. (Marc represents a good chunk of San Mateo and Santa Clara County cities. If you don’t know who your assemblyman is, you can find out using this map.) Zach said that, while Marc is conceptually supportive, he will reserve his decision until he sees the final version of the bill after it has gone through the Assembly committee process. Zach said that process could take anywhere from days to months. He mentioned that he was once quite sure that a particular bill would pass in just a few weeks, and it took 1.5 years. Because of this, Zach said that he has quit trying to predict how long it will take for any individual bill to pass.
At this point the #1 thing that YOU can do to help ensure that California becomes a sanctuary state is to call / write / meet with your state assemblyman and assert your support for SB 54. The ACLU suggests this sample script for your message:
"Hello, my name is ___________ and I would like to ask Assemblymember ___Berman or other___ to support the California Values Act, SB 54. The California Values Act just passed with a majority vote in the Senate and it is heading into the Assembly Committee process. The bill will ensure that most state and local resources are not used to further mass deportations. The California Values Act will uphold our core principles of equal treatment, community, and compassion. Thank you."
The lawsuit that I told you about in my last update – Santa Clara County vs. the executive order withholding federal funds from sanctuary cities – has a court hearing on April 4th in which it was joined with a lawsuit brought by San Francisco against the same executive order. The next court hearing for this lawsuit is on April 14th. I’m happy to say that at 34 cities, including my hometown of Menlo Park, filed Amicus curiae briefs in support of this Santa Clara County in this lawsuit. I’ll keep track of this lawsuit and include news in my next update.
March 26, 2017
The action item of the day is to contact your state senator and urge them to support the “California Values Act” or Senate Bill #54. If passed, this law will prevent the use of state and local resources for federal immigration enforcement actions that will separate families and hurt the state’s economy. This law will essentially make all of California a sanctuary state! Please call or email your state senator (Find your State Senator here) with the request to "Vote yes on the original, clean version of SB 54, with NO amendments."
If you prefer to mail letters or Tweet, here’s a great site with info on how to do so: http://wearecalifornia.org/sb54/
Watch Senator de Leon’s presentation of SB 54 at https://youtu.be/Jiyi6ft1uv8
For a detailed analysis of SB 54, download the PDF from 3/17/17 available here: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billAnalysisClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB54
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Another action that you can take is to get training and participate in Faith in Action’s Rapid Response Network volunteer program. You don’t have to be religious to participate. I attended a training in East Palo Alto last week that was excellent, and I’ve signed up to be a volunteer. The program aims to expand the community's capacity to monitor and document ICE raids in real time. The rapid response network will expose the intimidating and unconstitutional tactics ICE uses to detain immigrants. Our network will also support the process of gathering evidence used to free someone from ICE custody. You can learn about this program a twww.facebook.com/FaithInActionBayArea
The next Rapid Response Legal Training is Tuesday, March 28, 5:00pm - 7:00pm: USF, Bermann Room at Fromm’s Hall, Parker St at Golden Gate Ave, San Francisco. No RSVP necessary.
March 8, 2017
Urgent request: by 5pm tomorrow (Thursday), please email your City Council and urge them to support Santa Clara County by joining the Amicus brief to protect Federal funding of sanctuary cities.
All supporting Amicus Curiae briefs are due to the court by March 22nd, so we need City Council action before then. In Menlo Park for example, next Tuesday's city council meeting is the only window of opportunity, and the city agenda is finalized on Friday which is why you need to email the city council by 5pm tomorrow (Thursday) at the latest.
Here is an article with some more info about the Santa Clara County lawsuit: http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Santa-Clara-County-Considers-Suing-President-Trump-412355773.html
Here is an email template to send to your city council members – please send ASAP!
Subject: Support Santa Clara County Litigation to Protect Federal Funding
Hello City Council,
I am writing to request that you support Santa Clara County to protect federal funding for the county.
Please agendize for the next City Council meeting a consideration to join the Amicus Curiae brief in support of Santa Clara County, in the litigation to protect the Federal funding of so-called "sanctuary cities". All Amicus Curiae briefs are due to the court by March 22nd, so we need City Council action before then.
The withholding of Federal dollars from Santa Clara County will immeasurably affect our entire region. Please join the Amicus Curiae brief in support of local control.
<your name here>
The bad news is that ICE’s aggressive raids and deportations are ongoing. The good news is that a few more cities and organizations in California are stepping up to lawfully resist these immigration enforcement efforts that are ripping apart families in our communities:
- Fresno Unified approves schools as ‘safe place’ for undocumented students
- Santa Ana's status as sanctuary city made official
I very much hope that one of our Silicon Valley cities will follow suit soon.
February 21, 2017
Lots of goings on – too many to count, really! Immigrants are more concerned than ever about being targeted, detained and deported. Here are 3 short updates:
- I have compiled these immigrant resources, including immigrant rights training documents in English and Spanish (thank you Comité Latino), and a super helpful family planner for immigrants (thank you ILRC.org). Please share these resources with immigrants you know – particularly undocumented immigrants – and email me (update [at] sanctuarysiliconvalley.org) any additional resources that you find helpful so that I can add them to the compilation.
- If you want to receive immigrant rights training, you can join a training session this Sunday, Feb 26th at 3:30-5pm at Cafe Zoe, 1929 Menalto Avenue in Menlo Park. If you want to attend that training, please email me so that I can tell the organizer how many people to expect. If you can’t make that date, Comité Latino does trainings on the 4th Tuesday of every month (next one is March 28th) at 6:30-8:30pm at the Municipal Center, 2415 University Avenue in East Palo Alto. If you are an individual and are interested in providing a safe haven in case of immigration-related emergency, contact the Comité Latino at (650) 321-4001 and leave a message.
- With lots of help, I have developed this 11x17 informational flyer with 10 talking points on why with Menlo Park should adopt a sanctuary city ordinance, and 5 action items that people in Menlo Park. You can easily adapt this flyer to your city by making a copy of the document in Google Docs and then substituting your city name and action item links for the ones I have in there for Menlo Park. I’m also working with a designer to create a yard sign, and I’ll share the design for that in my next update that you can also adapt to work for your city.
January 31, 2017
Wow, crazy times. Seriously. Here’s a must-read article published in today’s LA Times: San Francisco sues Trump over executive order targeting sanctuary cities
I have some solid progress to report in this update, as well as more asks of you all. Here’s the progress:
- Seems like more Silicon Valley cities and organizations are getting serious about reassuring their immigrant communities. Sequoia Union High School District passed this resolution in support of undocumented students. Menlo Park passed a resolution to affirm diversity and inclusion, and agreed to vote on a sanctuary city ordinance within 90 days – for details see today’s Almanac article. I’ve heard rumblings of folks who want to advocate for immigrant communities in Redwood City and San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. Feels like the momentum is picking up a bit!
- There’s a fan-freaking-tastic California State Bill that would make all our local advocacy efforts pretty much moot because it would essentially cover our Golden State with a big ol’ sanctuary city law: “This bill would, among other things, prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies and school police and security departments from using resources to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect, report, or arrest persons for immigration enforcement purposes…” Yay for Senator De León who introduced this bill! It’s still in committee and quite far from getting voted on, so we need to keep trucking on our local initiatives in the meantime.
Good stuff, right? OK now here are my asks of you all:
- If you don’t live in Menlo Park and are aware of progress in your Bay Area city, please email me and tell me about it so that I can add your info to the next update.
- If you live in Menlo Park, please RSVP to attend the city council meeting on April 25th when the sanctuary city ordinance will most likely come up for a vote: https://action.unitedwedream.org/events/menlo-park-city-council-meeting-to-vote-on-the-sanctuary-ordinance
January 19, 2017
I have a few updates to report, and also need to put out a call for all you help. First, the updates:
- Yes, tomorrow is really happening. We don’t know what specifically the new president is planning to do around immigration enforcement. There's speculation about a possible revocation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which would impact 1000s students in the Bay Area – 1000 students at De Anza college alone.
- My family went to rally in San Jose in support of immigrants and refugees. The event was sponsored by the Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network (SIREN). We listened to speakers who reminded us that, unless you are a native american, you are an immigrant. We chanted in solidarity. It was a wonderful experience.
- I have some progress to report in Menlo Park: this Tuesday, January 24th, the Menlo Park City Council has the following on the city council agenda item: “Review and consider adopting a resolution affirming Menlo Park’s commitment to a diverse, supportive, inclusive and protective community; review and consider introducing an ordinance adding Chapter 2.58, National Registry Participation Prohibited, to the Menlo Park Municipal Code; and review and consider alternatives.” I’ve sent this proposed city ordinance to a few Menlo Park city council members, and I’m hoping that they consider it as an alternative!
Asks for you:
- If you don’t live in Menlo Park and are aware of progress in your Bay Area city, please email me and tell me about it so that I can add your info to the next update.
- If you live in Menlo Park, please attend the city council meeting this Tuesday, January 24th and make a Public Comment in support of inclusion and protection of vulnerable populations in our community.
December 23, 2016
On the heels of winter solstice and with Christmas, Hanukkah, etc. right around the corner, this is my final update for 2016 on the sanctuary ordinance effort. There’s good news and bad news.
Interest in sanctuary policies is gaining interest among some Bay Area cities:
- Alameda is considering sanctuary policies.
- Palo Alto passed this resolution on community inclusiveness.
- East Palo Alto has started hosting immigration rights workshops to help undocumented residents understand their rights and be prepared for the worst. The head of De Anza College came to the meeting and emphasized that their policy protects the 1000 undocumented students at De Anza through DACA. (In fact, all public universities and community colleges in California share this sanctuary policy protecting their DACA students.)
- Menlo Park’s Mayor has agreed to put consideration of inclusive / sanctuary policies on the city council agenda sometime in January in response to three public comments, including this one from me, at least week’s city council meeting.
There are also significant headwinds:
- Bay Area cities plan to rely on federal funds for infrastructure projects in the years ahead, and their city councils are nervous about the possibility of losing federal funds, even temporarily. While withholding federal funds over sanctuary policies would ultimately wind up in the Supreme Court as a violation of the 10th amendment, justice moves slowly and local infrastructure projects could be cash started in the meantime.
- While resolutions are nice and make us feel good, they lack teeth and can be violated without impunity. City ordinances, on the other hand, are laws that require enforcement and entail penalties if violated. Also, a city ordinance does not carry at the county level, with the exception of San Francisco’s ordinance because SF is both a city and its own county. For example, if an undocumented person is detained in a county jail, the county jails in both San Mateo and Santa Clara counties immediately report immigration status directly to ICE, even before conviction.
- We’ve had only 4 additional community feedback form submissions in the last week. Please share the form (https://goo.gl/forms/BttxTcdalKp2XP6i2) with your friends and family so that I can understand their perspectives and keep them apprised of any developments within their city that would benefit from their participation.
Finally, here’s an excerpt from a long feedback form submission from someone who opposes sanctuary policies:
“...it is not the responsibility of local governments to take any action whatsoever to protect illegal immigrants from federal action. My belief is that local governments should remain neutral on this point.”
The potential bridge to common ground here is this idea of local governments remaining neutral – that notion is very consistent with sanctuary policies! Neutrality means that local governments take no action either to help or to hinder federal immigration authorities. The whole point of sanctuary policies is to ensure that city employees take no action to help, which is much more common than city employees hindering, immigration raids and deportations.
December 2, 2016
We're up to 159 feedback form responses! A blurb in the Palo Alto Daily news last week may have helped boost responses. We're still trying to get a meeting with Menlo Park City Council Members so that we can understand more clearly what are their criteria for passing city ordinances and get on the agenda of an upcoming City Council meeting. The feedback form is the strongest evidence we have right now that most people support sanctuary policies and want to see them supported by their cities. Here are the summary results as of this morning:
In addition to people's questions and considerations that I shared in my last update (see below), here are some additional points that I've seen in the new feedback submissions – this time I'm showing direct quotes and not paraphrasing:
- "Sanctuary cities draw criminals since they don't have to fear consequences. Let police do their job."
So actually the claim that sanctuary cities draw criminals is completely unsubstantiated. Police departments of sanctuary cities have stated publicly that sanctuary policies allowing police to do their jobs without having to act like federal immigration officials (except in the case of convicted felons) is good for community policing. Here are a few articles where major city police chiefs have touted the positive relationship between local law enforcement and sanctuary policies: Los Angeles, New Haven, Seattle.
- "It seems like if we make the legal process sensible and easier for everyone, we could reduce illegal immigration much more and have everyone be more trustful of each other. I find there is lack of a holistic debate. So I find it difficult to support one piecemeal idea that kinda sorta alleviates one problem. I find it difficult to support one idea when other things are also broken. In the current political crisis, I am supportive of a sanctuary ordinance - but i worry that these are the kind of things that may make the next generation of legal-whoevers get angrier (kind of where we are today!)."
At the local level, piecemeal solutions that give the most vulnerable in our community a tangible sense of greater solidarity and support is a good thing. While national debates about more holistic immigration policies are or are not happening, we can make some positive progress at the local level to institute policies that reflect our community values. Let's not artificially gate local progress on national reform.
- "Federal law is quite clear on this. Leave illegal immigration to the Feds."
Indeed, the federal government is responsible for immigration enforcement, while local city employees are not and should not be expected to check on or enforce immigration laws. That's exactly the idea behind sanctuary policies – they ensure that city employees can focus on doing their jobs, serving their communities and fostering trust and communication with city residents.
November 19, 2016
So far, 91 people have submitted the form. 59 of these folks live in Menlo Park, which is due I think to my posting on Next Door for my neighborhood. If you live outside Menlo Park and want to help get out the word in your community, posting a link to the website on your neighborhood discussion board/group would make a difference.
Here is what the distribution of support looks like:
The key concerns that folks site who don't support are as follows (I'm paraphrasing here):
• "Illegal immigrants break the law and we should uphold our country's laws." The root cause concern here is around not wanting to perpetuate lawlessness. Living in a country where nobody pays attention to laws would be bad – we all totally get that.
How we're thinking about this issue:
Federal (and state) laws are not immutable – they can change over time in response to challenges from local communities. In this case, a community can come together and challenge a law in a lawful way. The marijuana proposition that just passed in California is a good example of that. The federal government says it's a crime to possess marijuana, and the people of California say that it's no longer the case. So local laws can impact federal ones, sometimes leading to change in those federal laws, themselves.
• "We don't want our community to become a safe haven for criminals." The issue at hand here is wanting to have a safe community where criminals are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Everyone would agree with that!
How we're thinking about this issue:
The sanctuary ordinance does not impede police officers from arresting criminals, or the justice system from prosecuting them. All that good justice still happens, unimpaired. The difference here is that officers don't report anybody to the federal immigration authorities when they arrest them. When someone gets convicted of a felony, they get reported. This provides a very clear line in the sand for police offers so that they don't wind up checking folks' immigration status on routine traffic stops, etc. The police chief of LAPD thinks this delineation is good for community law enforcement, per this article.
• "If we become a sanctuary city, will we lose federal funding?" The next presidential administration has put this possibility (threat) out there. It would certainly suck to lose any federal funding that we have.
How we're thinking about this issue:
Sanctuary cities from Chicago to New Mexico to LA have come out publicly saying that they will not change their sanctuary city status in the face of the potential loss of federal funding. If that were to happen, this would become a national issue that all sanctuary cities would face together. I think that's pretty good company to keep, and if we feel that passing a sanctuary city ordinance is good for our community and reflects our community values, we should not hesitate to do so in the face of this potential federal backlash.
The questions that people who do support becoming a sanctuary city have are as follows:
• "What does a sanctuary city ordinance include / not include?" Check out this example (also posted above) and please leave your detailed comments and questions.
• "What's the process to get a sanctuary city ordinance passed in my city?" Every city is a little different, but in Menlo Park either the mayor or two council members must make the request to have the city council consider the ordinance at a council meeting. I'll be meeting with Menlo Park city council member Ray Mueller after Thanksgiving to discuss further.
• "What can I do to help?" First and foremost, please send the website link to your friends and family here in Silicon Valley so that we can gather more feedback. I suspect that having a critical mass of feedback (even when anonymized and aggregated) will be an important input to city council members' consideration of the sanctuary ordinance proposals. Also, if you want to step up to contact you city council members and get the sanctuary ordinance proposal on their city council agendas, that would be awesome too!