Long Beach, News

Long Beach City Council supports sanctuary bills Tuesday night

Long Beach City Council gave its unanimous support for legislation Tuesday that would, in effect, make California a sanctuary state. Long Beach is the first city to formally support the measure.

The California Values Act is comprised of two bills, the immigration bill and the religious protection bill. The bills prohibit state and local law enforcement from assisting in or performing deportations and prohibits cooperation in developing a registration based on religion or national origin.

The current immigration practice in California states that, “when there is reason to believe that a person arrested for a violation of specified controlled substance provisions may not be a citizen of the United States, the arresting agency shall notify the appropriate agency of the United States having charge of deportation matters,” according to Senate Bill 54.

The measures were introduced by Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez and was met with rallying support from the Long Beach community.

“When this [California Values Act] came to my office, I couldn’t help but support it,” Gonzalez said. “We have to take a stand … to ensure that we are known as a city that supports its diversity and inclusiveness.”

Citizens lined up to share their personal experiences and give their support for the undocumented community as well as demand that the city take even bolder steps by becoming a sanctuary city, despite the executive order signed by President Donald Trump last month, promising to defund sanctuary cities.

“I’m happy to see that the council members are supporting the state bills that senators [Lara] and [De Leon] are proposing, but I want to emphasize that this should only be a start,” said Andrew Guy, a second district resident. “The people of Long Beach’s immigrant community know that the state of California will stand up for them, but they need to know that their city will too.”

The city council also unanimously supported measure H, a tax increase that will go towards combatting the homelessness crisis and will increase the special sales tax countywide by a fourth of a cent. This increase will be implemented on July 1, but will not take place in Long Beach for another six years when measure A expires since Long Beach is at its sales tax cap.

If passed by voters on March 7, the increase will take effect almost a full year after the city declared a state of emergency to combat homelessness. Although the homeless count in Long Beach has gone down in recent years, residents feel as though there is still more to be done.

Josh Butler, executive director of Housing Long Beach, a coalition dedicated to providing affordable housing for Long Beach residents, commended the efforts of the city by saying, “We’re standing up for the little guy. We’re addressing the problem and we’re solving it.”

Councilman Dee Andrews also voiced his support for the measure, telling the community, “it’s not about the money, it’s about compassion. We’re in a crisis here and we’re going to have to do something about it.”

Council members also passed a motion to gather demographics on the existing workforce and hiring pool in efforts to increase the diversity in Long Beach’s working community.

The motion was introduced by councilmember Roberto Uranga, who worked as a recruitment officer in Long Beach for the police and fire departments.

“It goes without saying that the city of Long Beach is one of the most diverse, urban cities in America and we should be striving to ensure that our workforce matches the diversity of the city,” said Uranga.

The data will include gender, ethnicity, age, disability and veteran status, according to councilwoman Gonzalez and will be released to the public via the open data portal.

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