LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. (CN) – More than 50 people spoke ahead of a decision by leaders of a Southern California city on Monday to opt out of the state’s sanctuary law that prohibits local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration officials.
Located in Orange County, Los Alamitos city officials said the state’s sanctuary law, referred to as the California Values Act, conflicts with the U.S. Constitution and the charter city does not want to jeopardize its standing with the federal government.
The City Council adopted the ordinance clarifying its compliance with the federal government in a 4-1 vote. The council members will vote again next month to formally adopt the resolution.
“It really is for us to say we believe in the Constitution,” said Mayor Pro Tem Warren Kusumoto.
More than 50 residents and vocal critics spoke for about two hours before the City Council voted. Opponents said the council’s action would impact families and called it a shame for the city of about 12,000 people.
Mayor Troy Edgar clarified before the start of the meeting what the City Council was discussing.
“What we are not filing a lawsuit. We are not determining immigration policy tonight,” said Edgar.
But others said the issue was steeped in politics.
Cynthia Valencia, an organizer for American Civil Liberties Union, called the ordinance unlawful and an endorsement of the Trump administration’s immigration policies.
Others applauded the City Council and thanked U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who visited California earlier this month to announce his lawsuit against the state over its sanctuary laws.
One woman called the City Council pioneers and said, “God bless Trump, God bless America and God bless each one of you.”
Shouting could be heard on audio recording from the meeting and some speakers were accused of not being local voices.
Luz Beltran Acevedo, a Mexican-American, said she recently moved to Los Alamitos because of her two daughters.
“When I hear Los Alamitos, it makes me feel that I’m part of this land,” said Acevedo. But she asked how she would explain to her daughters that when their family members come to visit their home immigration officials could take them away.
“I’m a real one. Nobody paid me. I live here,” said Acevedo.
Last year, the Northern California counties of Tehama and Siskiyou voted to formally state they would cooperate with immigration officials and not follow the state’s immigrant-protection law.