Written by Cole Cahill
Print Managing Editor
Photo and Video by Isaac Marziali
Residents from many different backgrounds packed city council chambers at last Wednesday’s South Pasadena city council meeting. Nearly everyone was present for a single agenda item: a discussion of city policy on immigrant status and federal enforcement.
Since the presidential election, many cities have enacted “sanctuary city” policies that prevent local law enforcement from collaborating with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, or ICE, and local advocates push for the same reforms in South Pasadena.
The council decided to move forward with developing a policy that prevents law enforcement from assisting ICE. They resolved to create a subcommittee consisting of council members Diana Mahmud and Richard Schneider as well as key community members. The subcommittee is tasked with forming the city’s new policy to protect undocumented immigrants and is instructed to meet in a public setting. The public safety commission was also ordered to examine nearby cities’ “sanctuary city” policies and codify that police officers will not specifically target people for their immigration status.
Police Chief Art Miller began the discussion with a presentation stating that the South Pasadena Police Department does not take immigration status into account when apprehending people. Miller explained that because South Pasadena does not have a formal cooperative agreement with ICE or other federal organizations, SPPD does not feel that the city should be subject to sanctuary city status.
“We frankly don’t care about people’s immigration statuses,” Chief Miller said. “If [a subject] told us they were here illegally, we wouldn’t care.”
Many citizens still felt that regardless of SPPD’s practices, pro-immigrant policy was a necessary change in South Pasadena. Twelve residents spoke to theaddressed the council in support of South Pasadenathe city adopting sanctuary city policy. The council heard a firsthand account from an immigrant worker, concerns from an elementary school principal in nearby Highland Park, and support from former South Pasadena mayor Harry Knapp, among others.
“As a young person, I don’t want to live in a society built on fear. I don’t want my immigrant neighbors, friends, and family to live in fear. South Pasadena must strengthen its policy to explicitly state that we will not assist ICE and take a step away from a society of fear,” SPHS senior Ciena Valenzuela-Peterson said in her comments to the council.