Pomona gives first approval to ‘sanctuary state’ compliance measure
PUBLISHED: December 11, 2017 at 11:53 pm | UPDATED: December 12, 2017 at 5:07 pm
POMONA >> City leaders gave preliminary approval Monday night to a proposed Pomona ordinance meant to ensure the city will implement requirements spelled out in the state’s new so-called “sanctuary state” law.
Immigrant-rights groups urged the City Council to adopt an ordinance to keep Pomona in conformance with SB 54, known as the California Values Act.
Pomona City Council members voted unanimously for the proposed ordinance, which will come back to the council Dec. 18 for a final vote.
The ordinance was crafted with the involvement of representatives of various immigrant-rights groups, the city’s police chief and deputy chief, and members of the city attorney’s office, said Councilwoman Cristina Carrizosa.
“It’s was a very collaborative process,” Mayor Tim Sandoval said. “Out of this came the document you see … I think everyone is proud of the final document.”
Gov. Jerry Brown signed the California Values Act into law in October. The legislation goes into effect Jan. 1.
Generally, the law will prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies from using their resources for immigration-enforcement purposes including investigating, interrogating, detaining or arresting people.
Pomona’s proposed ordinance will ensure “city policy remains in conformity with state law on the issue, in particular, the requirement now under SB 54 that cities do not engage in immigration enforcement purposes except under specific circumstances,” according to a city staff report. That would include cases in which a judicial warrant was issued.
Among the things the proposed ordinance would do is prohibit the city from entering into agreements unless they are in compliance with SB 54, the staff report reads.
State legislation will require police departments to provide an annual report to the California Department of Justice with details of participation in any joint law enforcement task force. The proposed ordinance will require the Pomona city manager to provide the same information to the City Council at the same time it is submitted to the state Department of Justice, the staff report reads.
Pomona’s proposed ordinance will ensure that “neither the city nor any official, employee, agent or contractor of the city will be able to amend this stated city policy to make such policies out of compliance with this ordinance or SB 54,” according to the staff report.
The proposed ordinance makes it clear that the Pomona city manager is responsible for development and implementation of the training materials for city personnel as it pertains to the scope and requirements of SB 54, the city staff report reads.
The city manager also will present to the City Council a report on the status of training and compliance with SB 54. The report will be provided at least once a year to the City Council or when requested by the council.
Sandoval reiterated that the City Council is “in full support of all our residents in the city,” he said. “We are going to do everything that we can to protect you.”
Prior to the council’s vote, Jose Calderon, president of the Latino and Latina Roundtable of the San Gabriel and Pomona Valley, told the council that over the years the city and a coalition of local organizations have worked together to address issues of concern to the city’s immigrant population. Issues have ranged from addressing the needs of day laborers seeking work to support for state legislation that has resulted in driver’s licenses being issued to those living in the state without the proper immigration documents.
“This is very important to our community which includes immigrants and the families of immigrants,” Calderon said.
Tuesday, Calderon said he was happy with council’s action and is demonstrating it is “taking the lead and figuring out how to ensure the voice and protection of those in a section of the community not always heard.”
But not everyone agrees with the direction the City Council is taking. Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation of American Immigration Reform, said Tuesday actions such as those taken by the Pomona City Council are those of local leaders who are upset with the federal government taking steps to enforce immigration regulations.
“Ultimately, it is SB 54 that’s in violation of federal law,” Mehlman said.
In 1996, Congress adopted legislation outlawing sanctuary cities yet the federal government has not challenged California’s legislation or that of cities, he said.
The actions California, Pomona and other communities are sending to those in the country illegally including those who are undocumented and have committed a serious crime is “we will do whatever it takes to protect and coddle you,” Mehlman said.
Calderon said the nation is living through a period in which policies that have allowed people to live in the country legally are being overturned, instilling fear in them and their loved ones in addition to leaving them facing an uncertain future.
The Pomona City Council’s actions provide some help to people in such a situation, Calderon said.
“It’s really a courageous act,” he said.