Santa Ana Council Should Put Sanctuary City Ordinance To A City-Wide Vote

On Tuesday, the Santa Ana City Council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution designating Santa Ana a “sanctuary city,” to the cheers of the leftist, primarily Latino political activists who had converged on the council chamber from around Orange County. It was radical chic trumping common sense.

The resolution is a symbolic statement that Santa Ana ought to be a place where illegal immigrants can find safe refuge from federal immigration laws.

The steady parade of progressive Latino political activists from around Orange County trooped to the podium and address the City Council, a specific set of policy “asks” emerged. In addition to declaring Santa Ana a sanctuary city, they demanded Santa Ana

  • Adopt a sanctuary city ordinance rather than merely a resolution
  • End all ties to and cooperation with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency
  • Create a Sanctuary City commission of “directly impacted individuals” and “their advocates”

Councilmembers’ comments made it clear they were signing from the same song sheet. Councilmen Sal Tinajero and David Benavides promised to bring it back as an actual city ordinance as soon as the next council meeting.

All in all, it was a turbo-charged exercise in groupthink and political correctness, a self-identified act of resistance to the forces of hate and bigotry – that is, anyone whose thinking on illegal immigration differed from the progressive political activists on either side of the council dais. Sanctuary city supporters cast themselves as “fighting back” against “hate.” Councilman Tinajero said it was time to “punch back.”

Notably absent from the various harangues was any meaningful distinction between legal and illegal immigration. Speakers referred to “immigrants” – as if naturalized citizens and legal residents are in any danger of deportation. Or referenced “those without documents” – as if it were a case of forgetting one’s drivers license or birth certificate at home.

One of the most astonishing statements came from Councilman Tinajero, who was really feeling his demagogic oats. Tinajero defended the sanctuary city declaration by saying “When people overreach, we have to remind them what we’re all about as Americans and following the rule of law and the Constitution” – a self-contradictory statement if one ever existed. How is it “following the rule of law and the Constitution” enact a policy intended to shield people who are violating the law and designed to obstruct the federal government from carrying its Constitutional duty to make and enforce immigration laws. Logic is an endangered species indeed in the wilderness of radical progressive thought.

The uncertainty and anxiety felt by many immigrant families – especially among families in which the children are American citizens and one or both parents are illegal immigrants – is very real due to the rhetoric of the last campaign. But how does more fear-mongering and loose talk by Santa Ana councilmembers and agitators of mass deportation ameliorate that anxiety or improve the situation.

Polls have consistently shown that most Americans support some form of pathway to legal residency for those are living here illegally but who are otherwise part of our social fabric; and it ought to be an arduous pathway that prevents anyone who entered illegally from jumping the line ahead of legal immigrants. Most Americans oppose separating families if mixed immigration status.

Polls also show most Americans want the federal government to regain control of our southern border and deport criminal illegal immigrants. They believe our country should have the final say in who is allowed to immigrate here. All these measures sprout from the American people’s great well of common sense and generosity of spirit.

It also happens to be the approach that President-elect Trump has laid out publicly: kick out the criminal illegal immigrants, regain control of cross-border immigration, and then make a determination about the “terrific people” who are here illegally but are otherwise law-abiding members of society.

In other words, the heated rhetoric and plans for active opposition to federal immigration enforcement are unwarranted by the facts on the ground. So rather than sowing alarm and throwing up the barricades, the Santa Ana City Council should lead with cool heads. Does the city council believe its citizens are safer by releasing criminal illegal immigrants into the community rather than turning them over to ICE for deportation? Does the city council understand that declaring Santa Ana a place where one can live outside of federal immigration law will tend to degrade respect for the law in general? Why obey city or state laws one considers unjust or inconvenient if the city says it is OK to disobey federal law? According to the Voice of OC:

The city of Santa Ana, for example, currently receives $6,346,782 from the Department of Justice to fund community policing other programs, while the Department of Homeland Security provides $4,965,000.

The Santa Ana city councilmembers have no idea how they’ll replace the $2 million the city will lose by ending its ICE contract. Does anyone think they have any more of a clue how Santa Ana could cope with the fiscal nuclear bomb losing $10 million in public safety funding for the sake of a cause dear to the hearts of radical progressives and few others?

Here’s a suggestion: if the Santa Ana City Council and the coterie of radical activists have such confidence in the justness of turning Santa Ana into a sanctuary city, they should place the coming ordinance on a city-wide ballot and see what the ordinary citizens of Santa Ana think? It may pass, but probably not. My suspicion is the citizens of Santa Ana have more prosaic concerns such as crime, jobs and improving the quality of their schools. They probably prefer their council focus on areas it can do something about, and are less than animated about the progressive fads embraced by radical activists who reject traditional ideas of citizenship or even the legitimacy of national borders.

In OC Daily’s opinion, the sanctuary city movement is an exercise in radical self-indulgence, a political rallying ploy that diverts attention from Santa Ana’s real problems. So why not put sanctuary city status to a vote of the people? The city is planning to hold a special election on shifting to by-district council elections next year anyway, wo why not throw the sanctuary city question on there with it? If the council is willing to sacrifice millions of dollars the city cannot afford to lose, why not test whether ordinary Santa Ana citizens agree, or if the council is simply advancing the fringe ideological agenda of a coterie of left-wing political activists.

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