Los Angeles City Council Declares LA a Sanctuary City

File – In this Jan. 12, 2016 file photo, the snow-capped San Gabriel Mountains stand as a backdrop to the downtown Los Angeles skyline. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)

LOS ANGELES (CN) – In a symbolic challenge to President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously Friday to declare the City of Angels a “sanctuary city.”

While the resolution doesn’t include any new policies on immigration, it does put the city formally in line with Senate Bill 54, the “sanctuary state” bill passed by lawmakers in 2017 which limits police collaboration with U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement in the Golden State.

Trump – who continues to demand $5.7 billion to fund expansion of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border – has threatened to pull all federal immigration agents out of the state and cut off criminal justice grants in protest of the bill, officially titled The California Values Act.

In the Democrats’ Spanish language response to Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said his office is prepared to take legal action if the president declares a national emergency to fund his border wall.

California is home to 10 million immigrant residents, according to the Pew Research Center. Of the 3.5 million immigrants in Los Angeles County, Pew estimates 1.5 million are undocumented.

Friday’s resolution, introduced by Councilmember Gil Cedillo, states that federal immigration matters are the responsibility of the U.S Congress and that any local police involvement in immigration-related operations would be unconstitutional.

The resolution, which passed 12-0, was delayed for a vote in order to be coupled with the city’s first ever civil and human rights ordinance, which was approved Thursday by the council’s Immigrant Affairs, Civil Rights and Equity Committee.

The ordinance, which also approves the formation of a Civil and Human Rights Commission, makes discrimination in the city a prosecutable crime.

The commission’s director would have the power to investigate discrimination in housing, employment, private commerce, and education based on certain protected classes.

In a statement, Cedillo said both measures solidify the city as a safe destination for immigrants and refugees.

“For generations, Los Angeles has been a city of opportunity that welcomes those who want to come here and work hard to improve their quality of life,” Cedillo said. “Our ‘City of Sanctuary’ declaration and new civil and human rights ordinance ensures that will be the case for generations to come.”

Both LA and LA County have adopted pro-immigrant policies in recent years, voting to decriminalize street vending, setting up a $10 million legal defense fund for immigrants and barring city employees from sharing residents’ information with ICE.

The Los Angeles Police Department ended direct collaboration with federal immigration authorities in 1979 through Special Order 40. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has made similar policy changes in recent years.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced Jan. 30 that ICE agents are barred from entering county jails, courts and police stations on civil immigration matters.

Villanueva said, however, that the county will continue to transfer individuals into ICE custody when the county receives an ICE detainer – a request to hold an individual for 48 hours while ICE determines whether to initiate deportation proceedings.

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