Following the passage of California Senate Bill 54 on September 16, the Long Beach City Council voted at its September 19 meeting to approve its own “sanctuary city” policy to expand on the immigrant protections provided by the state bill.
The agenda item, dubbed the Long Beach Values Act, was introduced by 1st District Councilmember Lena Gonzalez and passed with a 7-1 vote. The only dissenting vote came from 5th District Councilmember Stacy Mungo. She explained that while she supports Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and DREAMers, she was concerned the item did not go before the city’s state legislative committee, which reviews and recommends support for or opposition to proposed statewide policies.
“If it wasn’t for my mother’s and my grandmother’s sacrifices to come here, I certainly wouldn’t be sitting in this seat,” Gonzalez said. “I don’t think they ever thought that, as immigrants, that their daughter or granddaughter would be now pushing policies to protect our communities.”
Prior to the passage of SB 54, Gov. Jerry Brown indicated that he would sign the bill into law if passed by the state legislature. If signed by the governor, state and local law enforcement agencies would be prohibited from using resources to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect or arrest people for immigration enforcement purposes.
With the approval of the Long Beach Values Act, the city manager’s office will work with the office of equity and partner with local immigrant rights organizations, the Long Beach Sanctuary City Coalition, Centro Cha, Long Beach City College, the Long Beach Unified School District and California State University, Long Beach in expanding the policy in the following ways:
• Protecting and advocating for local DACA and DREAMER students.
• Preventing future deportations of local residents.
• Examining partnerships with L.A. County for local legal defense funds.
• Protecting the confidentiality of local immigrant residents and their information and ensuring no city resources are used to create registries based on religious affiliation, immigration status or any other protected class such as gender, sexual orientation, race, etc.
• Affirming an aggressive approach to advocating at the federal and state level for pro-immigrant policies.
Councilmembers highlighted the recent decision by the Trump administration to phase out DACA, which has benefited about 800,000 young immigrants since being adopted five years ago.
During the meeting, councilmembers and public speakers pointed out that the issue hits close to home, as Long Beach has a large population of immigrants or children of immigrants, including Mayor Robert Garcia and councilmembers Gonzalez, Uranga and Price. Councilmembers Uranga and Austin each employ a DACA participant in each of their offices.
Public commenters shared that the fear of deportation has increased within immigrant communities, as well as threats of retaliation by landlords and employers if they ask for higher wages or improved living conditions.
The policy will be brought before the council in the next 60 days for final approval.