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Santa Monica Confronts President in Council Resolution, Mayor’s Letter  

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By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

March 6, 2017 -- If the federal government boosts its immigration enforcement in Santa Monica, it will not get much help from City officials.

That policy is not new, but it was affirmed this past week in a resolution approved by the City Council and a letter published on the City's website by Mayor Ted Winterer.

The council approved a resolution last Tuesday with a lengthy title that includes the statement that Santa Monica is “embracing diversity [and] rejecting hate.”

This resolution touches on a variety of issues, including immigration enforcement.

It was passed in reaction to recent actions and statements from President Trump that many Santa Monica officials do not like, including stepping up immigration enforcement.

The resolution states that Santa Monica would not use money or resources “to investigate, question, detect, apprehend, detain or register persons whose only violation is or may be a violation of civil provisions of federal immigration law related to documented status.”

But it says the City would cooperate with federal immigration officials “in matters involving the protection of public safety.”

This was further clarified by Deputy Police Chief Alfonso Venegas to the council during the meeting. He talked about specific instances in which the City could be involved.

“In the event [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)] were here and they needed some level of support because their safety is at risk or the operation has gotten so big it’s affecting the community, we have to deal with traffic control issues and those types of things to keep the surrounding community safe, we would help in that endeavor,” Venegas said.

Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks has already clarified that her department would continue with its policy of not enforcing immigration laws in a statement issued late last year (“Santa Monica to Continue Non-Enforcement of Immigration Laws, Police Chief Says,” December 2, 2016).

Neither Seabrooks’ statement nor the council’s resolution calls Santa Monica a “sanctuary city,” unlike the declarations of other jurisdictions. But one Santa Monica resident accused the City of being on the road to becoming one.

“I am absolutely opposed to [the Santa Monica council’s] fanatical idea of proclaiming Santa Monica a sanctuary city,” wrote Santa Monica resident Carolyn Hanlin in a letter that was placed on the council agenda along with several letters supporting the resolution.

She continued, "This city has too many City Council members that continually get involved in matters that are none of their business. Perhaps by breaking the immigration laws, you all should be thrown in jail. We should only be so lucky.”

No council member spoke about the resolution before it was unanimously approved, although during clarifying questions, Councilmember Tony Vazquez said he did not have "any confidence in our president these days.”

In his letter, Mayor Winterer wrote that “actions have been taken by the new president and his administration” that “do not align with [Santa Monica’s] vision of diversity and inclusion.”

He also wrote, “The President’s strategies test the notion that our democracy and civil system of governance is something of which we must be proud.”

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