Dozens of pleas to reconsider failed to stop the Carlsbad City Council on Tuesday from approving a resolution to back the federal government’s legal fight against California’s “sanctuary state” law.
The 3-1 vote, with Cori Schumacher opposed and Mark Packard absent, affirmed a decision the council made at a lightly attended special meeting May 21. Council members said residents had asked them to take a position on the hot-button issue.
“I am adamantly opposed to this resolution,” Schumacher said Tuesday, adding that any stance on such a controversial issue can only divide the community and detract from more important city work that needs to be done.
California and several other states have passed what are called “sanctuary” laws to limit the assistance of state and local law enforcement agencies with federal immigration enforcement. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced his federal lawsuit against the Golden State in March.
Shouts of “racists” and “vote them out” filled the Carlsbad council chambers after the decision, and Mayor Matt Hall called a 10-minute recess to clear the room.
Before that, almost every one of more than 25 speakers told the council it was taking a wrong turn.
“Please don’t shame this city by going against this political football,” said Richard Shlemmer, a psychologist who’s practiced in Carlsbad for 40 years.
“There is no good reason to get involved in this,” said Gretta Schmidt, an attorney and 17-year Carlsbad resident. “There is absolutely no benefit to Carlsbad.”
Several people talked about how the country’s new hard-line stance on immigration has terrified many families and in some cases led to taking children from their families. One woman wept as she recalled how, as a little girl living with an undocumented parent in Vista, the fear had “bubbled up” in her whenever she heard a knock at the door.
“You’re on the wrong track,” said Barbara Mead, a former Carlsbad school board member and resident since 1984.
Former President Ronald Reagan, who was also a former California governor, gave amnesty and a path to citizenship to immigrants in the 1980s, Mead said, “and nobody has done the right thing since.”
But the majority of council members were undeterred.
“This isn’t about immigration issues,” said Councilman Keith Blackburn, who first brought the issue to the council. “It is about communication between police and federal agencies.”
Hall agreed with Blackburn, saying good communication is what keeps people safe.
“My vote is strictly about law enforcement, and giving them every tool possible to keep you safe,” Hall said.
The Escondido City Council and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors also have backed the federal lawsuit.