Anaheim: “Welcoming” Or Sanctuary City? A Distinction Without A Difference

Among the items on the December 20 Anaheim City Council agenda to create a “Mayoral Task Force to Research and Establish A Welcoming Anaheim Initiative.” The item was requested by newly-elected District 3 Councilman Jose F. Moreno, a professor of Chicano Studies at Cal State Long Beach.

Moreno is on the record as a strong supporter of Sanctuary City status for Anaheim, which begs the questions of whether there is any real difference between a “Welcoming City” and a “Sanctuary City,” and whether his initiative is simply a Trojan Horse to stealthily achieve that goal?

The Welcoming America website used to have a page explaining the difference between Welcoming and Sanctuary city status. It’s no longer publicly accessible but there is a cached version available from November 22, 2016.

“Welcoming Cities promote policies and programs that foster inclusion for all, while a sanctuary city designation refers to some degree of non-engagement on federal immigration enforcement.”

“Some [Welcoming] communities may also choose to enact policies that reduce engagement with federal immigration enforcement officials -like sanctuary cities – but this is not a requirement for being a Welcoming City.”

“While a sanctuary city may also be a Welcoming City, the term sanctuary city speaks to a narrow set of circumstances – where a city has codified by local ordinance a practice that prohibits municipal funds or resources to be used to enforce federal immigration laws, usually by not allowing police or municipal employees to inquire about an individual’s immigration status.”

Judging by Welcoming Cities own description, the difference between Welcoming and Sanctuary city status is more semantic than substantive. The former doesn’t carry the polarizing branding of the latter, but the outcomes are substantially the same.

According to the same website page, characteristics of a Welcoming City include “programs and policies designed to identify and reduce the barriers (linguistic, cultural, unwelcoming climate, etc.) that prevent immigrants and refugees from reaching their full potential” and “core areas of welcoming are leadership and communications; equitable access; economic opportunity and education; civic engagement; and safe and connected communities.”

Welcoming Cities “commit to institutionalize strategies ensuring the ongoing inclusion and long-term economic and social integration of newcomers” and communicates “messages of unity and shared values permeate the community through the media, through the voices of leaders, and among residents.”

This is the typical and intentionally anodyne rhetoric practiced by progressive groups, and through which they’re experienced in driving truck-sized political agendas. For example, “Civic engagement” is a standard euphemism for political organizing and electioneering. Think about the hyper-political AnaheimBROS student clubs organized in Anaheim’s public high schools by Moreno’s political supporters under the rubric of “breaking stereotypes,” and extrapolate that to a city-wide program of politically organizing immigrant residents under the auspices of City Hall.

If small, hands-off government is supposed to be the guiding principle of the new Tait Majority, then why would they want to put city government into to business of organizing and “integrating” immigrants residents (whether legal or illegal)? Doesn’t that properly lie within the sphere of non-governmental institutions, not to mention the natural dynamics of a free society?

The city’s existing and much-ballyhooed “City of Kindness” and “Hi Neighbor!” programs pursue essentially the same goals and are not exclusive of Anaheim’s immigrant residents? What would a Welcoming City initiative do that these existing outreach programs do not – other than serve as a vity-wdie vehcile for Moreno’s brand of identity politics?

History of Radical Rhetoric Key To Intentions
In gauging Councilman Moreno’s intentions for making Anaheim a “Welcoming City,” it is necessary to consider his Moreno’s views and rhetoric on illegal immigration in general and Sanctuary Cities in particular.

At an October 24, 2016 Anaheim city council candidate forum organized by a coalition of progressive political groups, candidates were asked:

“Would you support a resolution to make Anaheim a sanctuary city for the undocumented community, yes or no? What would be your recommendations in terms of immigration policy to help and protect the undocumented community in Anaheim?”

Moreno responded by giving his “absolutely support” for Sanctuary City for Anaheim. He also compared the US enforcement of laws against illegal immigration to “state terrorism.”

Such inflammatory rhetoric isn’t new or unusual for Moreno. In a September 10, 2013 \Facebook post, Moreno said issuing illegal immigrants drivers licenses denoting their undocumented status, it would be “to go down the path of Nazi Germany”:

In April of 2012, Moreno praised the Undocumented, Unafraid and Unapologetic Movement as “powerfully and profoundly elegant in its intent and action” and that is is imperative” for illegal immigrants to “rise Unafraid and Unapologetic”:

Earlier this year, Moreno re-posted this primer “responding” for how to get through an ICE deportation raid, courtesy of the militant hotel workers union UNITE-HERE Local 11 – one of his staunchest political supporters.

UNITE-HERE Local 11 played a major role in Moreno’s narrow victory by flooding District 3 with pro-Moreno campaign walkers for the last two weeks of the campaign.

In his direction to staff to agendize the Wecloming Cities initiative, Moreno’s rhetoric tipped his hand that he envisions it as more than a touchy-feely Sanctuary City-Lite. The leftist academic pointed he intends to initiative to stand against “any impositions made by federal authorities that might transgress their rights as human beings.”

Moreno never explains what ICE enforcement actions “transgress” the human rights of illegal immigrants, nor does he give any examples. This is a question that ought to be asked and answered at tomorrow night’s council meeting. Is is a human rights transgression to hand a criminal illegal immigrant over to federal authorities for deportation? Is deportation itself a human rights violation? Reasonable people can disagree on how prioritize deportation of illegal immigrants and on when it is better to deal with certain categories of illegal immigrants via pathways to legal status instead of deportation.

But to view enforcement of federal immigration laws as human rights transgressions denotes a pretty radical worldview, and indicates potentially radical goals for this Welcoming Cities initiative.  Compassion and generosity of spirit toward undocumented immigrants doesn’t require encouraging and validating disobedience of the law and the de-legitimization of its enforcement.

Given his past and present rhetoric, and his highly ideological approach to politics, it is fair to judge Moreno’s “Welcoming City” initiative is a Sanctuary City initiative in sheep’s clothing.

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