LOS ANGELES (CN) — Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday voted to draft an ordinance barring city employees from cooperating with the federal government if President Donald Trump creates a Muslim database.
Councilman Paul Krekorian proposed the draft ordinance and the council passed the motion at a morning meeting in City Hall. The council also asked Los Angeles Police Department and the city attorney to report on hate crimes against immigrant communities in the city in the wake of Trump’s election.
In addition, city leaders asked the budget and finance committee to study how Trump’s executive order to withdraw federal funds from sanctuary cities could affect the city’s finances.
The motion cites some of the “darkest moments” in U.S. history, including the internment of Japanese-Americans in California during World War II, and warns that the “language and legislation of oppression have crept back into the mainstream political discourse in the United States."
Since Trump’s election, the more than 3 million Muslims living in the United States have had reason to be alarmed, not least because of a travel ban targeting seven majority Muslim countries.
“He repeatedly engaged in rhetoric that suggested an unfair scapegoating of Muslim Americans based solely on their faith,” Krekorian’s motion says of the president. “Our city should take these statements and actions seriously, and we should never tolerate or accept them. We must never facilitate or cooperate with such an abrogation of our most cherished values.”
Robin Hvidston, executive director of Claremont-based We The People Rising, a group opposed to illegal immigration, said the city was sending the “wrong message” and should focus on improving the lives of the homeless, veterans and the disabled.
“They should be in compliance with what the federal government is requiring at every level, including information on those criminally or illegally present in Los Angeles,” Hvidston said in a voicemail.
In November 2015, Trump appeared receptive to the idea of creating a Muslim database or ID cards for Muslims, telling a Yahoo reporter: “We’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely. We’re going to have to look at the mosques. We’re going to have to look very, very carefully.”
Later that month, Trump said he “would certainly implement” a database of Muslims in the United States.
“There should be a lot of systems, beyond databases,” Trump told MSNBC. “We should have a lot of systems.”
But Trump has backed away from the proposal and has said that he did not understand the Yahoo reporter’s question. He has, however, come out in support of database for Syrian refugees, though the question of whether he supports a Muslim database remains unclear despite an unequivocal statement from his campaign in December.
“President-elect Trump has never advocated for any registry or system that tracks individuals based on their religion, and to imply otherwise is completely false,” the Trump campaign told The Washington Post.
With Trump’s position on a Muslim database blurry, some wonder if the city’s action is premature or could create fear in Los Angeles’ Muslim communities.
Krekorian told reporters that the city wanted to draft the ordinance to make clear that Los Angeles will not tolerate religious discrimination, though he conceded that the city does not know what the federal government will do.
“All I know is that the president of the United States has said he wants to register Muslims. I'm not going to participate in an effort to do that,” Krekorian said.
Omar Ricci, with the Islamic Center of Southern California, said he was grateful city leaders have taken action.
“We can't wait for shoes to drop before we react. I think this is a very appropriate action that the council has taken today, and appropriate not only just for Muslims but for the protection of our country,” Ricci said in a telephone interview. “We have to send a very strong counter-message to the Trump administration as to who we are, what our nation stands for.”
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