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County Board Supports Santa Monica Representative's ‘Sensitive Locations Policy’ for Immigrants  

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Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

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Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

April 14, 2017 -- Sheila Kuehl, the Santa Monica resident who represents the city and the surrounding area on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, wants to limit the federal government’s ability to investigate immigration matters and enforce related laws.

The board voted 4-1 on Tuesday to approve a proposal co-written by Kuehl and Supervisor Hilda Solis to establish a “Countywide Sensitive Locations Policy.”

This measure calls for County officials to investigate the “legal authority to limit federal investigation or enforcement actions in county locations central to the administration of County programs and services.”

These locations include schools, courthouses and hospitals.

The proposal mentions the recent arrest of Rómulo Avelica-González, a Mexican citizen who has lived in this country illegally for more than 20 years.

He was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in February while picking up his children from school in Lincoln Heights, sparking many protests.

“ICE’s recent activity has frightened a great many people, and has had the troubling effect of discouraging them and their families from accessing vital public services,” wrote Kuehl in a blog post after the board meeting.

She wrote that the measure and a related one also approved by the board on Tuesday were “designed to let our families know that we will do our best to keep them safe when they are at sensitive locations.”

Kuehl added, “This County provides vital public services and every eligible person should feel safe accessing them.”

The related measure finalized the process for selecting members to the County’s recently created Immigrant Protection and Advancement Task Force.

Among its duties, the task force will be involved in the sensitive locations investigation.

The County board has passed 11 motions this year related to immigration issues, Kuehl said.

She wrote that they are an attempt to “protect our immigrant population” following the election of Donald Trump and “his barrage of executive orders potentially affecting the 3.5 million immigrants” in Los Angeles County.

Kuehl’s blog entry does not differentiate between immigrants who are living in Los Angeles County legally and illegally.

During his campaign, President Trump promised to strongly enforce immigration laws, and one of his first acts as president was to sign an executive order for federal funds to be withheld from “sanctuary jurisdictions” for illegal immigrants.

Since the order was signed numerous cities and counties have passed laws and taken actions regarding immigration, including Santa Monica.

Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks has clarified that the Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) would continue with its policy of not enforcing immigration laws (“Santa Monica to Continue Non-Enforcement of Immigration Laws, Police Chief Says,” December 2, 2016).

She also ended the SMPD's agreements with ICE (“Santa Monica Police Ends Agreement with Federal Immigration Authorities,” March 17, 2017).

And the City Council passed a resolution last month touching on a variety of issues, including that the City would not be involved in immigration enforcement (“Santa Monica Confronts President in Council Resolution, Mayor’s Letter,” March 6, 2017).

The Trump administration credits its tough immigration policy for a 72
percent decrease in the number people caught illegally crossing the border from December 2016 to March 2017.

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