The Long Beach City Council voted 6-2 Tuesday evening to prohibit all city employees from collecting information on immigrants in the country illegally.
The Long Beach Values Act also bars the city from collecting “sensitive” information on all residents — unless it is directly related to a city service or function. The prohibited information includes race, ethnicity, place of birth, sexual orientation, biological sex or gender identity, and religious affiliation, as well as a person’s status as a recipient of public assistance, victim or witness to a crime or victim of domestic abuse or sexual assault.
The council also agreed there would be another meeting dealing with proposed exemptions to the act.
Some immigrant rights groups and activists have opposed exemptions to the act.
By limiting the collection of the data, city employees would be banned from assisting with the enforcement of federal immigration law. The proposal has received strong support from the City Council, which last September voted 7-1 to have the city manager collaborate with local immigrant rights groups and educational institutions to have it drafted.
“As we know, one in four Long Beach residents are foreign born, and roughly 20 percent of those are considered undocumented, which means every Long Beach resident will be affected as a result of these policies,” Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez said when the council voted to have the resolution drafted.
“As the daughter of an immigrant myself, I know firsthand the value our immigrant community brings to the city of Long Beach, and frankly if it wasn’t for my mother’s and my grandmother’s sacrifice to come here, I certainly wouldn’t be sitting in this seat,” she said.
“And I don’t think that they ever thought that as immigrants that their daughter, granddaughter, would now be pushing policies to protect communities in that sense.”
The Long Beach Values Act is broader than Senate Bill 54, signed into law last year by Gov. Jerry Brown, which limits the role of state or local law enforcement agencies in holding and questioning immigrants in the country illegally, but made an exception for those with serious criminal histories.
The creation of a legal defense fund for immigrants facing deportation was in the initial proposal, but City Attorney Charles Parkin said creation of the fund would take time and couldn’t be approved Tuesday night. The council voted 5-3 to prepare a legal defense fund, including the option for partnering with a nonprofit organization.
Declaring sanctuary status for immigrants in the country illegally and taking steps to limit local governments’ involvement with federal immigration enforcement has become an increasingly common action taken by cities and states with leaders who are opposed to President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.
Trump has repeatedly demonized some immigrant groups, called some Mexican immigrants “rapists” during his campaign, and has attempted to intimidate local jurisdictions into cooperating with federal policies by trying to withhold some federal funding.
The U.S. Justice Department sued California last week over its sanctuary status that limits its participation in enforcing federal immigration laws.
The White House issued a news release Tuesday about sanctuary cities that said, “When sanctuary city officials refuse to honor [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] detainer requests, they are putting the public and law enforcement officers at risk. If ICE cannot arrest illegal or criminal aliens in the controlled environments of police stations or jails, it must perform its lawful immigration enforcement duties in workplaces, in residences, or in the streets. Even worse, when sanctuary city officials warn illegal aliens about possible upcoming immigration enforcement activities, they allow criminals to prepare themselves, endangering innocent bystanders and putting law enforcement at greater risk.”
—City News Service
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