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The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

San Gabriel now named safe city

    By Ethan Tan

    Staff Writer

    The San Gabriel City Council met at the Mission Playhouse on Apr. 3 and voted to approve the “Safe Cities Resolution,” 3-2.

    Vice Mayor Jason Pu along with Councilmembers Chin Ho Liao and Denise Menchaca voted in favor of the resolution while Mayor John Harrington and Councilwoman Juli Costanzo voted against the resolution.

    The resolution was introduced during the Feb. 6 city council meeting after the council voted 3-2 to terminate a memorandum of understanding with Homeland Security Investigations/Immigration Customs Enforcement when then Councilmember Pu directed city staff to create a “sanctuary city ordinance” for the council’s approval at a later date in order to prevent another incident of the same manner to occur again and to also demonstrate that San Gabriel is committed to protecting its immigrant communities.

    City Attorney, Keith Lemieux, drafted the resolution himself and consulted Police Chief Eugene Harris as well as councilmembers for their input. Lemieux want to provide oversight and ensure the resolution was legal and not in conflict with any existing laws or ordinances.

    The Safe Cities Resolution essentially re-affirms city policy by putting in writing an existing policy that bars the San Gabriel Police Department from asking, collecting and or disclosing information about a person’s immigration status. Under the resolution, this policy now extends to all employees of the city. A second part of the resolution will make the city create and maintain a list and brochure with information and resources about where residents can get help for their immigration questions or needs.

    “The resolution essentially does not change city policy, but rather re-affirms it,” stated Lemieux during his presentation of the resolution.

    Dozens of residents attended the meeting and many of them commented on the issue.

    The majority of San Gabriel residents who spoke expressed anger towards the council for not informing the citizens of the city for attempting to make San Gabriel a “sanctuary city.” Residents also pointed out that the Chinese and Hispanic communities in the city were also unaware that a vote was taking place.

    Others like San Gabriel resident Camellia Vera, spoke about how she was afraid that because San Gabriel will be “labeled” as a sanctuary city, investors would not invest in San Gabriel and the economic progress that our city is experiencing will stop.

    Besides the issue of “labeling” the city, many pointed out that under the resolution, the city would work and organize events with local groups and to provide resources and legal counseling to the immigrant and undocumented community in San Gabriel. Citizens expressed how there was no specific budget allocated to the program and how this was not added into the fiscal budget.

    On the other hand, members from advocacy groups such as Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the California Immigrant Policy Center, ICE out of LA, and the National Immigrant Law Center spoke about how the city has a moral obligation to help the vulnerable populations and that the resolution would send the message that San Gabriel is the first to stand with immigrants and the undocumented.

    Towards the end of meeting, Mayor Harrington, motioned to table the resolution so that the text of the resolution could be edited, but the motion failed and the council subsequently voted to approve the resolution.

    Ultimately, residents of the community should know that the City of San Gabriel is still in compliance with all provisions of California’s Senate Bill 54 “Sanctuary State” bill.

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    San Gabriel now named safe city