L.A. Moves to Reinforce Immigration Policy

Just in time for Friday's inauguration of President Donald Trump, the City Council started gearing up for a possible fight with the federal government over the dramatic changes in immigration policies that are expected to come.

With an 11-0 vote, the council approved a motion Friday introduced by Council President Herb Wesson that asks city staff to prepare reports designed to "protect" immigrants and get a better understanding of the money Los Angeles receives from the federal government in light of Trump's threat to cut federal funding to so-called sanctuary cities. Los Angeles receives an estimated $500 million in federal funding per year.

While not fitting the typical definition of a "sanctuary city," in which undocumented immigrants are actively shielded from federal officials, Los Angeles has a policy of separating the work of the Los Angeles Police Department from that of federal immigration officials.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck in Jan. 2014 | photo by Scott L via Wikimedia Commons
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck say the city's policies on immigration will not change under Pres. Trump's administration | photo Jan. 2014 by Scott L via Wikimedia Commons

Since Trump's election in November, both Mayor Eric Garcetti and Police Chief Charlie Beck have reiterated that the city's policies on immigration will not change and the LAPD will not actively help enforce federal immigration policy.

Trump has threatened to deport up to 3 million immigrants who are in the country illegally, and the motion notes that an estimated 850,000 of Los Angeles' 3.8 million residents are not currently citizens.

Wesson spoke before the vote of the uncertainty many feel about Trump, as the president has made a series of bold pronouncements on immigration and it is not clear which ones he intends to carry out.

"If there is one thing that is consistent about this new administration, it is that they are inconsistent. We really don't know what's going to happen," Wesson said.

Councilmen Jose Huizar and Gil Cedillo are also co-presenters of the motion, which calls for staff to help craft the roles and responsibilities of an "immigrant advocate" appointed by the council to work in conjunction with the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs.

"It is imperative that as residents and leaders of the greatest city on the planet, we need to educate and prepare ourselves to defend our values, to defend our quality of life, to defend keeping students and families together, and to defend our neighborhoods from any attempts to change what makes our City so great ... the people," the motion states.

The motion also asks for a definition for "sanctuary city" and an examination of how that designation would apply in Los Angeles, and asks for an inventory of the federal funds, grants and loans the city receives.

Additionally, the motion asks for ways the city could partner with the Los Angeles Unified School District and community colleges to address student concerns about Trump's policies.

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