By Brianna Calix—May 17, 2017
A heated meeting ended Tuesday night at City Hall in Livingston with a divided council formally declaring the city a ‘sanctuary’ for undocumented immigrants, prompting cheering and hugging in the audience.
The Livingston City Council voted 3-2, becoming the first city in Merced County to choose a side in an ongoing national debate.
Mayor Jim Soria and Mayor Pro Tem Gurpal Samra cast the no votes. Council members Juan Aguilar, Alex McCabe and Arturo Sicairos voted in favor of the resolution.
“Becoming a sanctuary city does not solve all the problems, but it is the first step,” McCabe said. “For those of you here today who may not have documents, hear me now: You are a citizen of Livingston.”
Livingston is the first city in the San Joaquin Valley to declare itself a sanctuary, according to Crissy Gallardo, a community organizer with Faith in the Valley, the main group behind Tuesday’s sanctuary proposal.
Under the policy, city officials, including law enforcement officers, won’t work with federal agencies to enforce immigration laws or partner with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to the city’s resolution.
President Donald Trump made immigration a centerpiece of his campaign, and once he took office he signed an executive order saying he would withhold federal funding from so-called sanctuary cities. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also threatened not to grant Justice Department money to cities that don’t comply with federal immigration laws.
Livingston’s city attorney, Jose M. Sanchez, noted several cities have filed lawsuits to fight the executive order. A federal judge in San Francisco also temporarily blocked Trump’s order.
Read more at the Merced Sun-Star.