The Los Angeles City Council is expected to consider a plan next week to fight President-elect Donald Trump’s immigration policies, which could affect many Angelenos who are not citizens or residing in the country illegally.
Saying Los Angeles residents are “deeply concerned” about the “uncertainty” brought on by Trump’s election and his immigration proposals, Council President Herb Wesson said in a letter that he wants to look into ways to “protect” residents.
Angelenos have marched down city streets and gathered by the hundreds outside City Hall on a near daily basis since Trump won the election, to protest and raise concerns the president-elect’s promise to deport millions of undocumented immigrants or immigrants with criminal records.
“These concerns should not be underestimated,” Wesson said.
With roughly 850,000 people who are “not currently citizens” living in a city of about 3.8 million, there is a “very real possibility that one out of every five Angelenos are likely to be affected by changes to immigration policies, funding and enforcement at the federal level,” he wrote.
Wesson said he plans to introduce a motion on Tuesday that calls for staffers to report back on creating an “immigrant advocate” and a committee focused on “immigrant affairs,” and how the city would work with the county and the state on legal and legislative actions intended to “protect our residents.”
Wesson’s motion also will ask for ways the city could partner with the Los Angeles Unified School District and community colleges to address student concerns about Trump’s policies.
His 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.
Some lawmakers have threatened to withhold such funds from cities that shield immigrants from federal authorities.
While not fitting the typical definition of a “sanctuary city,” in which undocumented immigrants are actively shielded from federal officials, Los Angeles has long had a policy of keeping local police work separate from that of federal immigration officials.
The Los Angeles Police Department has a policy of not actively helping federal officials apprehend immigrants in the country illegally. One way this plays out is that the department will not honor requests by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to detain people longer than the typical 48 to 72 hours.
Police Chief Charlie Beck said this week that he plans to continue with this policy under Trump’s presidency because keeping Angelenos safe depends on officers being trusted by the immigrant community.
The department will still cooperate with federal officials if the immigrant in custody has committed a “serious violent crime,” Beck said, but “the use of local law enforcement for general deportation reasons for low- level offenders is not appropriate.”
The police department, however, will not hide the fact that an undocumented immigrant has been taken into custody. The “system by which we run folks nationally for warrants notifies ICE automatically,” so the department could potentially still release people to immigration enforcement officials as long as they are in their custody, Beck said.
Immigration activists who gathered with local leaders at City Hall last week to respond to Trump’s election vowed to fight to protect the privacy rights of people who qualified under a President Barack Obama policy, known as DACA, that stops or “defers” the deportation of people who were brought to the United States illegally as children, and gives them work permits.
As president, Trump will have the ability to lift this stay on enforcing immigration laws.
Mayor Eric Garcetti told City News Service last week said he is “worried” by the prospect of Trump repealing that policy, saying it would be “a horrible step backwards for this nation.”
He said at the time that he was planning to reach out to Trump, “just to congratulate him” and to “begin a conversation on all the issues, from infrastructure to immigration, that are important to our city.”
Los Angeles Unified School District board President Steve Zimmer last week also assured students feeling uncertainty due to their immigration status that the district “will not cooperate with the immigration services who might want to interview or work with students who are at a school site.”
–City News Service
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