PASADENA >> Hundreds marched to city hall Monday evening to show solidarity with Pasadena’s immigrant community and to urge city officials to end cooperation with federal authorities enacting President Donald Trump’s immigration orders.
Their signs called for “love, not hate” and for “sanctuary, not deportation.”
“President Trump wants to instill fear in our community, so that we won’t exercise our rights,” said Pablo Alvarado, director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. “Are we going to do that?”
“No,” the crowd shouted back.
Alvarado told the gathered activists to use the march to talk and learn from each other in hopes of bridging the gap between the younger and older generations in the community.
“We want the strongest policy to protect migrants in our city,” Alvarado said. “Let’s not allow anybody to split this community into the ‘good ones’ and the ‘bad ones.’”
The march beginning at the Pasadena Job Center highlighted the murkiness around the meaning of the “sanctuary city” title — Pasadena’s officials maintain they already are one. But those who packed the City Council chambers Monday said the Pasadena must do more to protect undocumented members of the community.
Too many of Pasadena’s protections are informal and must be more clearly defined while Trump remains in the White House, the speakers said.
“It is important that my city stand for what is right and just,” said Stella Murga, founder of the Adelante Youth Alliance.
They urged city officials to create policies forbidding all interactions with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and preventing any local resources from helping federal immigration enforcement.
The City Council must “completely disentangle” the city from any relationship with immigration enforcement with “no exception,” said Dale Gronemeier, a local attorney and civil rights activist.
“It is subversive to good local community for the immigrant and the extended immigrant community to have any perception that the local police are cooperating with ICE,” Gronemeier said.
The City Council in 2013 adopted a legislative policy calling for a comprehensive immigration reform that would not burden the police department or tear families apart.
The Pasadena Police Department similarly has a policy not to check anyone’s immigration status, a rule that has been in place for decades.
The discovery of a PPD memorandum outlining how ICE should reimburse the city for cooperation created a scare until City Manager Steve Mermell immediately voided the agreement upon learning he never signed it. Police Chief Phillip Sanchez said there were no other contacts between the two agencies in 2016.
All three of the District 5 council candidates marched with the group, but Councilman Victor Gordo, the incumbent in that race, used his position at the dais to call for his colleagues to bring the matter back as soon as possible so they can take a clear stance.
Gordo, who immigrated to the Pasadena area at age 5, said it is “un-American” for children to go to bed afraid, or for parents to fear sending their children to school.
“Today, we had hundreds of people coming to City Hall to say to us, Pasadena must speak up, because at this moment, we can’t remain silent,” Gordo said. “I say we don’t wait, we say it is wrong today.”
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