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Local Views on Sanctuary City Debate

| News | April 12, 2018

The backlash over the state sanctuary law has escalated, with Huntington Beach, Aliso Viejo, San Juan Capistrano and the Orange County Board of Supervisors joining Los Alamitos in opting out.

Closer to home, the Santa Clarita City Council decided to place on a future agenda a discussion about the California Values Act (SB 54) and possibly vote to oppose it and support the federal lawsuit against it.

Councilmember Bob Kellar led the charge at Tuesday’s meeting, as he has ever since Los Alamitos opted out last month. Cameron Smyth joined him. But these two aren’t running for re-election in November.

Mayor Laurene Weste has said she’s running, although she hasn’t filed official papers yet. Still, she was the third to request the matter be placed on the agenda. But she did it somewhat reluctantly, saying she wasn’t happy that matters like this have fallen to city councils. She also demanded the discussion be polite, because she doesn’t like the direction civil discourse in this country has taken.

“I would like us to have civil discourse where finally in America we solve the problems, not just throw things at each other,” she told the council. “This gives you an opportunity to discuss – civilly – your problem and your differences about what’s going on. And I’m going to reinforce civility, because when this item comes back, if the room isn’t civil then the meeting won’t continue.”

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The other incumbents, Marsha McLean and Bill Miranda, said nothing Tuesday. McLean told the Gazette earlier, “I have no statement.” However, she declared at the March 27 meeting, “We are not a sanctuary city. Several years ago, folks came and wanted us to declare ourselves a sanctuary city and we chose not to do that.”

Miranda previously said he is not in favor of a city passing any ordinance that violates federal law. He also said he doesn’t like when state law challenges federal law and when local law challenges state law. Yet, at the March 27 meeting, he joined Kellar in wanting to place the matter on a future agenda.

Asked to clarify, Miranda didn’t return calls for comment.

Council candidates Brett Haddock, Logan Smith and Diane Trautman publicly supported SB 54, which prohibits state and local law enforcement agencies from using money or personnel to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect, or arrest persons for immigration enforcement purposes. Also, law enforcement may not notify immigration officials if a non-citizen is arrested for violating some controlled-substance provisions or is a witness and/or victim to a hate crime.

“People have an idea it allows law enforcement to shelter people that are criminals, that should be held and should be deported,” Trautman said. “We need to do a better job of educating people about the (law’s) realities. … We are an immigrant country. I love that diversity. It has added tremendously to our country. If you object to sanctuary city (law), you’re making it harder for police to do their job. … You invite opportunities for racial profiling and we shouldn’t be encouraging that.”

Haddock and Trautman also oppose joining the federal lawsuit against California. Attorney General Jeff Sessions filed suit last month, claiming the law endangers federal agents.

“To spend all that money (on a law) our local law enforcement mostly supports – I believe Sheriff Jim O’Connell came out in favor of it – it’s counterproductive,” Haddock said.

In fact, O’Connell originally opposed the Act, stating that other state law suffices. But according to several media sources, O’Connell changed his mind after discussions led to changes in the bill that satisfied him. Smith read O’Connell’s statement during the council meeting.

“With the passage of this motion, our council members have declared war on Dreamers and immigrant families in Santa Clarita,” Smith said in a statement. “Available data supports the assertion that sanctuary cities are safer cities and Los Angeles County law enforcement leaders have issued statements in support of the California Values Act. Council members should be focusing on local issues, like addressing our housing crisis, ending the opioid and heroin epidemic, and bringing good-paying jobs to our city.”

Smith told the Gazette that SB 54 was written “to protect people trying to live their life, live the American Dream,” and people shouldn’t confuse punishment with justice. It’s perfectly right to deport criminals such as the Filipino sex offender who was here illegally when he was accused of assaulting a teen in Saugus in 2015.

“If our immigration policy went after those people, it would be easier for me to stomach,” Smith said.

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About Lee Barnathan

Lee Barnathan has been a writer and editor since 1990. His articles have been published in newspapers, magazines and online. His new book "If You Experience Death, Please Call and Other Fatal Mistakes We Make With Language," a humorous look at the ways people misuse English, is available on Amazon or at his website, www.leebarnathan.com. He is hired by people all over the country to help them refine the message or story they wish to share with their target audience or demographic.

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