Columns

California Socialists Demand Safe Harbor, Federal Aid to Help Illegal Immigrants

Supporters of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program march in Irvine, Calif., on Sept. 5, 2017. (Mark Rightmire/The Orange County Register via AP)

Karla Alegria, an organizer for the Freedom Socialist Party’s branch in L.A., doesn’t think much of a proposal to declare the city of Los Angeles a “city of sanctuary.”

“(It) may make some of us feel warm and fuzzy, but we need something concrete,” Alegria told the Los Angeles Times.

Still, two Los Angeles City Council members introduced a motion Friday to declare Los Angeles a “city of sanctuary,” a move that a civil rights attorney said would be largely symbolic.

The Washington Times reported in March that there were nearly 500 cities, counties and states in America where municipal officials have pledged to be “sanctuaries” for illegal immigrants. Such sanctuary is often said to include non-cooperation, to one degree or another, with federal immigration authorities.

Here it is September, and L.A., portrayed as a beacon of resistance to President Trump, has not adopted neither the phrase “sanctuary city” or “city of sanctuary” to describe its opposition to federal ICE agents carting off illegal immigrants.

Council President Herb Wesson, who along with Councilman Gil Cedilla introduced the City of Sanctuary motion Friday, said it was unfair to chastise Los Angeles for being late to the immigration enforcement resistance party.

“Los Angeles came out quickly,” Wesson said, pointing to the city’s decision to set up a panel on immigration rights. “We did our job.”

Cedilla told CBS News he and Wesson decided to move forward after reading a report from the council’s Immigrant Affairs, Civil Rights, and Equity Committee that included an endorsement of the “city of sanctuary” concept from civil rights attorney Peter Schey.

“People seem to have strong views on this name thing. My stance has always been that what’s important. Ultimately, yes, that sort of symbolic statement – ‘we are a city of sanctuary, we are a city of refuge,’ etc. – I think it’s important. It sets a certain tone,” Schey said.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said he didn’t like the phrases “sanctuary city” or “city of sanctuary” because the terms had no meaning. In fact, Garcetti said the phrase’s only practical use would be as means by which by the Trump administration could justify cutting off federal funding to Los Angeles.

“The mayor is not focused on labels, he is focused on making sure that L.A. is always a city that protects the rights and dignity of immigrants,” Garcetti spokesman Alex Comisar said.

That is not sufficient for Alegria’s Freedom Socialist Party chapter in Los Angeles.

“This is more wood in the fire to fight against bigotry and against capitalism,” the Freedom Socialist Party, Los Angeles declared on its Facebook page. “Let’s keep that fire burning be turn it into a movement for all immigrants, a movement for black lives, a movement for workers, movement for trans rights, for the unhoused. To breathe, we have to fight!”

In the eyes of the Freedom Socialist Party, an estimated one million undocumented workers in Los Angeles have been put in the “untenable position” of committing criminal acts like using stolen Social Security numbers to find employment.

“If they use someone else’s number, they are then branded as criminals and could be deported,” complained a Freedom Socialist Party blogger.

So, the California socialists are putting pressure on Mayor Garcetti and the City Council to do much more than simply slap that “warm and fuzzy” label of “City of Sanctuary” on the Los Angeles municipal website.

The FSP is demanding that L.A. make the “City of Sanctuary” label real by establishing city libraries, park and recreation facilities, and social service offices as “safe harbors” for illegal immigrants.

“These places would block Homeland Security and federal customs agents from entering these refuge locations to arrest or harass immigrants,” the Freedom Socialist Party blog read.

And there’s more.

The FSP also sees a connection between the “parallel injustices of government terror against immigrants and police abuse against the homeless in Los Angeles.”

Paradoxically, that logic leads the Freedom Socialist Party to conclude Garcetti must immediately declare a state of emergency and seek federal aid to build more housing and safe places with “survival services” for homeless illegal immigrants.

“The goal must be to build a multi-issue united front that is inclusive in order to defend all of those under attack. Ultimately, this is the only way we can keep fascists from knocking at our doors.” the Freedom Socialist Party blog stated.

“Today, they come for brown and black immigrants, refugees and transgender people,” the FSP warned. “Tomorrow they will come for the rest of us.”