Seal Beach takes wait and see position on sanctuary issue

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Four Seal City Council members have indicated they would wait for the so-called sanctuary issue to play out in the courts rather than follow Los Alamitos’ example of opting out.

The Los Alamitos City Council on Monday, April 16, voted 4-1 to approve an ordinance that declares Los Al exempt from the California Senate Bill 54, also known as the California Values Act or the sanctuary state law. Los Alamitos approved the introduction of the ordinance in mid-March. The ACLU announced its intention to sue Los Alamitos over the ordiance and scheduled a press conference for Wednesday, April 18, which was held after the Sun’s deadline.

“My position on the ‘opt out’ issue remains the same. I’m willing to let the court make a decision and follow it,” said Councilwoman Sandra Massa-Lavitt this week.

Massa-Lavitt took the same position following the introduction of the Los Alamitos ordinance in mid-March. At the time, she said Los Alamitos would have to file a lawsuit. Massa-Lavitt said she didn’t want Seal Beach to pay for a lawsuit that was going to be expensive. “That’s how I feel. I’m not speaking for anyone else,” she said.

Since the mid-March Los Alamitos vote, three individuals have asked the Seal Beach City Council to also “opt out.” A recent online Sun News poll asked “Should Seal Beach consider opting out of the California Sanctuary law?” The results: 41 percent of the participants answered “yes,” while 59 percent answered “no.” The poll was not scientific.

Since the ordinance was introduced, three individuals have asked the Seal Beach City Council to take a similar position. Mayor Varipapa stood by comments he made in a late March email to the Sun. “I have no further comments at this time other than I will be following this issue very closely,” he said.

In March, Varipapa, who represents District Three, said, “The City of Seal Beach recognizes the heightened interest in immigration issues and believes that this is a State and Federal government issue, not a local one.

“• The Constitutionality of SB54 has not been validated, and any related local action in opposition may be considered largely symbolic.

“• Given the uncertain status of SB54, the City has no plans to enact any related local regulations.

“• The City encourages its residents to share their opinions and concerns about this issue with their State and Federal elected officials.

“The City of Seal Beach believes that taking action to exempt the community from the provisions of SB54 may subject the City to costly legal challenges.

“• The City is already facing a challenging budgetary forecast, and the potential for expensive legal defense of an SB54-related action would not be fiscally responsible.

“• We will continue to monitor the immigration issue and will always do what is best for the Seal Beach community.

“The City of Seal Beach will continue to be vigilant in keeping the community safe by vigorously pursuing those who commit crimes, regardless of their immigration status.

“• The Seal Beach Police Department is committed to helping anyone who needs assistance, with a focus on compassion and professionalism.

“• Anyone who lives, works, or visits in Seal Beach should feel confident contacting the Seal Beach Police Department at any time, no matter their immigration status.”

The Sun emailed Varipapa to ask if he changed his mind since then, but it is not known if he received the messages.

This week, Councilman Thomas Moore said, “My response is the same as a few weeks ago regarding the Sanctuary City issue.”

At that time, Moore said, “Regardless of what I personally feel on this issue, as an elected official I think it is important to consider all the residents in my area and what is best for Seal Beach. This issue is currently in litigation between the federal government and the state of California.

“To be clear, Seal Beach is not a sanctuary City. There is no need to take any action because this is a State and Federal government issue, not a local one. The Constitutionality of SB54 has not been validated, and any related local action in opposition may be considered largely symbolic. Given the uncertain status of SB54, there are no plans to enact any related local regulations. I encourage residents to share their opinions and concerns about this issue with State and Federal elected officials.

“Our Police will continue to be vigilant in keeping the community safe by vigorously pursuing those who commit crimes, regardless of their immigration status. The Seal Beach Police Department is committed to helping anyone who needs assistance, with a focus on compassion and professionalism.”

District One Seal Beach City Councilwoman Ellery Deaton, in an opinion she submitted to the Sun, raised concerns about the legal costs of opting out of the state law, the negative impact of illegal immigration on national security, the importance of legal immigration to our country and related issues.

For her entire opinion, see
https://bit.ly/2qJZVVy

In related news, the ACLU on March 22 submitted a California Public Records Act requesting the Seal Beach Police Department documents from October 2017 to the present related to the implementation of the California Values Act, aka the Sanctuary law.

The Police Department’s reply was to send them a copy of SBPD Policy 416, which deals with law enforcement and immigration.

Policy 416.2 says that SBPD officers will make a professional commitment to equal law enforcement and equal service to the public. Policy 416.4 says, “Officers shall not inquire into an individual’s immigration status for immigration enforcement purposes (Government Code§ 7284.6).”

Policy 416.5 says, in part, that officers will not detail anyone for violation of immigration laws. The policy says that if an officer believes an individual who is already in custody has illegally re-entered the United States and the penalty for the offense for which that person was arrested for crimes that could be enhanced because of a prior felony conviction, the officer may arrest that person for illegally re-entering the United States.

Seal Beach takes wait and see position on sanctuary issue