Daily 49er

Long Beach passes 2018 Values Act

The policy is an extension of California’s Senate Bill No. 54 and prohibits city officials from cooperating with ICE in most cases.

Photo illustration by Jade Inglada

Photo illustration by Jade Inglada

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After a 6-2 vote, Long Beach City Council adopted a resolution that would protect undocumented immigrants, with a few limitations, from federal agents.

The Long Beach Values Act of 2018 would protect confidentiality of the citizenship status of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients and local undocumented residents from enforcers of federal immigration laws.

Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez of District 1 helped author the resolution and worked alongside the Sanctuary Long Beach Coalition. This organization includes Building Healthy Communities Long Beach, Housing Long Beach and Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition.

The Values Act is a local extension of the California’s Senate Bill No. 54, which prohibits state and local law enforcement from cooperating with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents unless the person of interest has an outstanding felony arrest warrant.

Unlike the senate bill, the Values Act would extend to all city departments instead of only the police department. In other words, city employees are prohibited from sharing information about a resident’s citizenship status with immigration enforcement agencies.

The vote includes the approval of the Values Act and directs of city staff to return with a presentation about the criminal carve-outs under SB-54, which would allow the detention of undocumented immigrants convicted of one of the bill’s listed crimes including assault, battery and bribery.

Nevertheless, not all Long Beach residents were in favor of the act as it stands, which would allow for possible dissemination of citizenship status information to ICE if it “is directly related to a city service, or function,” according to a staff report. Some supporters of the act were in favor of removing the criminal carve-out terminology and have the act apply to everyone.

Jonathan Solarzano, a member of the Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition, said the community should be going beyond SB-54.

“By not pushing for more of what SB-54 offered, we are essentially wasting our time here,” Solarzano said. “It is not a time to compromise, it is not a time to debate, these are people’s lives we’re dealing with here tonight.”

Resident Jedi Jimenez spoke about his family members getting deported and his mother experiencing discrimination and not being able to do much due to her undocumented status. He encouraged the city council to adopt a cleaner values act that doesn’t allow the turnover of undocumented information to any federal agent.

“To a lot of our undocumented youth and immigrant families who have turned their life around, the second chance is nowhere near them,” Jimenez said. “The carve-outs that were proposed by the city staff of giving information to ICE on past convictions is actually giving them more of a reason to separate and deport our families.”

Roberto Uranga, councilmember of the District 7, said there is a high number of African Americans and Latinos in Long Beach jails and that the justice system “is not color-blind.”

“I have issues with the carve-outs, I really do,” Uranga said. “Because some of the crimes [listed] … I don’t see them reaching that level of having to be deported. For example, a DUI, embezzlement, forgery—I see these as perhaps white-collar crimes.”

Before deliberation, the Values Act proposed incorporating a public legal defense fund to defend immigrants who need legal representation. To establish the fund, the staff report showed recommendations of having a one-time seed funding matched by philanthropic and individual sources.

This would provide legal representation to DACA recipients and immigrants in danger of losing their status. It would also protect individuals with a household income below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, equivalent to $32,480 for a family of two or $49,200 for a family of four.

Although a supporter of the act, third district councilmember Suzie Price did not like public money going toward a legal defense fund, stating that it’s a violation of the city charter and that the staff report was void of details on which organization the money would come from.

“I do not support using taxpayer dollars or public funds to fund a legal defense fund,” Price said.

A 5-3 vote approved a $250,000 allocation from the general fund toward the defense fund.

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