The California city of San Carlos declared itself a sanctuary for illegal immigrants Monday night, in what is largely a show of support for minorities and defiance against the Trump administration’s policies.
The city council voted 4-1 to approve a resolution to bar local authorities from cooperating with federal agents who enforce immigration laws — effectively declaring the city a safe zone from deportation for illegal immigrants who commit crimes. Such cities are widely known as “sanctuary cities,” although San Carlos swapped out that politically loaded term for “Welcoming City.”
President Donald Trump has consistently spoken against sanctuary cities, and issued an executive order in January disqualifying them from receiving federal grant money. “These jurisdictions have caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our Republic,” the order states.
San Carlos’s bay-area neighbor San Mateo recently decided against a similar resolution for fear of losing federal funds. Both cities are a part of San Mateo County, which declared itself a sanctuary for illegal immigrants in 2014.
Council members largely dismissed the possibility of facing penalties from the Trump administration over the resolution in the public meeting, in part because San Carlos does not technically have a police department, so it doesn’t detain anyone or collect the information relevant to federal immigration officials. City manager Jeff Maltbie also noted the majority of what little federal funding the city receives is for infrastructure, and is indirectly channeled through a regional agency.
San Carlos contracts police work out to San Mateo County, which as noted, already has in place a policy of shielding illegal immigrants from federal officials, unless they have committed certain crimes the county deems too serious. The “Welcoming City” designation is less a meaningful policy change and more a public show of support for illegal immigrants.
“What was passed last night was merely symbolic and results in no change of policy,” the council member who voted against the resolution, Matt Grocott, told TheDCNF regarding the vote. “It was a complete and utter waste of time.”
Grocott worries, however, the resolution could send the wrong message to potentially criminal illegal immigrants. “The consequence may be a less safe and secure community if it draws the wrong sort of people,” he said. “It is like letting the whole community know you always leave your back door unlocked, whether you are home or not.”
A spokesman for the Trump administration declined to comment on San Carlos in particular, but said the administration is serious about dealing with sanctuary cities, as evidenced by the executive order, and is working out further steps to come.
Dozens of San Carlos residents expressed their view of the resolution before the vote Monday, with comments ranging from accusations the council is failing to uphold the U.S. Constitution by supporting the resolution, to declarations of admiration and support for the city’s “patriotic” display of support for illegal immigrants in considering the resolution.
“To not be willing to cooperate with our federal government, thats a problem,” one resident told the council. “I don’t think you’re in a position where you can pick and choose the laws that you want to follow. If we go down that slippery slope — we’re all in trouble, if its just at the whim of how somebody feels about something. … It’s really important far beyond this issue.”
“If you don’t feel that you can follow the laws of our constitution, and the state constitution, perhaps you should look for another area of public service to be in,” he added.
Another resident echoed his comments. After reading from the city’s code of conduct, where it states the council is bound to uphold the U.S. Constitution, and to carry out federal laws in order to “foster respect” for all levels of government, the resident said: “What I’m hearing advocated is that at the discretion of — someone — you’ll select which federal laws you will enforce by turning over criminal illegal aliens over the government or not. To me, that’s a violation of [the code of conduct], and according to this [code], any who choose to violate it should resign their office.”
But one liberal activist said she is thankful the city is considering the resolution. “We’re grateful for your patriotism in standing up against unconstitutional executive orders, and for your leadership in protecting all community members,” she said.
“San Carlos is a place where everyone should feel welcome to live, to work, to play, regardless of their color, background or religion,” she said, adding in conclusion: “I am for humans against hate.”
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