Sanctuary Status Redeclared

Santa Cruz county and city votes unanimously to remain a “safe space”

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Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 10.15.38 AMIn the wake of the presidential election, many looked to Santa Cruz to redeclare itself a safe space — a sanctuary city — for undocumented residents. On Tuesday, both the Board of Supervisors and Santa Cruz City Council voted unanimously to maintain sanctuary status in Santa Cruz County and city, respectively.

Sanctuary status means different things for each city or county, but all revolve around not cooperating with federal officials on federal immigration policy. Unless mandated, they will not provide community members’ immigration status or identification information.

While the Board of Supervisors meeting and the City Council meeting took place separately, they both brought a crowd of at least 60 people who awaited each group’s vote and received a standing ovation when each approved to remain a sanctuary for undocumented people.

“It feels very encouraging that we’ve succeeded in here,” said Ernestiña Saldaña, a speaker at both meetings and a member of advocacy groups for undocumented residents. “We were not expecting the whole board to support us or to say yes, but it was amazing to see everyone.”

About 20 individuals, some of whom are undocumented, spoke at each meeting about their experiences of being in constant fear of la migra, federal deportation agents, and the importance of remaining a sanctuary under the Trump administration.

Many attendees argued the declaration of sanctuary status on Tuesday is largely symbolic and some described it as “passive” and called for more concrete ordinances to protect undocumented individuals.

All local government officials expressed support for sanctuary status, and Council member Chris Krohn even motioned to add the phrase “no one is illegal,” to the resolution language. However, the City Council ultimately tabled for further deliberation.

Saldaña and many attendees expressed the need for further action to support undocumented people in Santa Cruz.

“This [resolution] is just the first step,” Saldaña said. “It’s good to have policies in Santa Cruz that say we are a sanctuary, but we are talking about federal law and federal officers that can come anytime. They don’t really need the permission of county supervisors. They can be here right now, so it’s important to be ready.”

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