The South Pasadena City Council voted unanimously in favor of strengthening and adjusting the Resolution of Diversity last night after an hour of speeches and deliberation. The vote, called by Council-member Marina Khubesrian, endorsed the plea of many citizens in South Pasadena: improve the pro-immigration legislation that is already in place. The legislation in question, the Resolution of Diversity, was enacted on December 21, 2016 in response to an impending Trump presidency.
The vote established two important points. The first is that the council is committed to improving the legislation in place. The second is the agreement to form an ad hoc subcommittee of the Public Safety Commission in an effort to expedite the process. PSC meetings will also be held at more convenient times for citizens to watch.
The chambers were packed, many people squeezing into a spot to stand. The council knew the turnout was because of Item 24 on on the meeting agenda: Discussion of City Public Safety Policy on Immigrant Status and Federal Enforcement. After the council elected to move the discussion towards the front of the agenda for the convenience of the vast majority of the audience, South Pasadena Police Department Chief Art Miller addressed the council. Miller outlined SPPD’s current policy on immigration. The long and short of it: they do not care.
“We quite frankly don’t care about [people’s immigration status],” Miller said as he addressed the council. “If they told us they were here illegally, we wouldn’t care.”
Miller went on to clarify that he and his department have never had a cooperative agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and that they do not play any role in ICE operations.
“We have a right to arrest people, but we also have another right, and almost a solemn duty to protect people regardless of their immigration status,” Miller said.
After Miller finished his presentation and answered questions from the council, the public comment phase began. 12 speakers each took their turn in sharing their call for a superior piece of pro-immigration legislation, with one dissenting speaker to cap it off. A diverse array of concerned citizens stood before the council. Residents of all ages and ethnicities expressed their concern. Calls for lasting policy, something more than words echoed through the chambers for 40 minutes.
“As a young person, I don’t want to live in a society built on fear,” South Pasadena High School student Ciena Valenzuela-Peterson said.
Speakers talked of their family heritage, personal stories and professional experience with immigrants. Megan Guerrero, the principal at Monte Vista Street Elementary School, told the story of a young boy who told her where he and his family were to hide in the event of a potential raid by ICE officers.
The public comment stage ended and the council began their deliberations. Khubesrian was the first to support the improvement of the legislation and the idea of creating an ordinance. She was soon followed by Council-member Diana Mahmud, Mayor Pro Tem Richard Schneider and Council-member Robert Joe echoing their support. Mayor Cacciotti closed out the deliberation with an impassioned speech damning the Trump administration, agreeing that South Pasadena should be a safe city for all.
“We’ve gotta fight this but we’ve gotta do it in a measured way with the resources we have,” Mayor Cacciotti said.
The motion to strengthen the legislation was subsequently brought forward by Khubesrian and passed unanimously.
Stay updated with SouthPasadenan.com for more information on this story as it develops.