Tuesday night, the Santa Monica City Council passed a resolution reaffirming its commitment to an inclusive city and that makes clear the beachside city won’t cooperate with federal authorities on enforcing immigration laws. Below is an open letter, published to the city’s website Wednesday, by Mayor Ted Winterer about the resolution. The letter is available in Spanish here.
Santa Monica has a rich history of embracing diversity and acting with compassion. These are two key community virtues that attracted me to Santa Monica. It’s a primary reason my wife and I chose to raise our family here. It’s what drives me to serve as Mayor. These are qualities that we must protect and nurture.
Actions have been taken by the new president and his administration over the past month that do not align with our vision of diversity and inclusion. The President’s orders directs the federal government to employ all lawful means to execute immigration policies, including deportation laws, and eliminate most federal grant money that goes to sanctuary cities.
While our immigration system could benefit from reform, this should happen in a comprehensive, thoughtful manner guided by our nation’s principles of due process, human rights, accountability and equal protection for all under the law. The President’s strategies test the notion that our democracy and civil system of governance is something of which we must be proud.
Here in Santa Monica, we reject racial profiling, mass deportation and travel bans as means for immigration enforcement. They foster fear and make residents hesitant to reach out to law enforcement as witnesses or victims of crime or accidents, or to simply go about their daily lives and go to work or attend school.
At our last Council meeting, we adopted a resolution clarifying the City’s role on federal immigration policy and practice. This resolution will help to address the very real and serious concerns from our community. It is intended to codify and affirm the City’s position on these matters. We have pledged to not use City resources including our staff to investigate, apprehend, detain or register any individual whose only offense is that of being undocumented. Our Police Department will continue to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement agencies only when an individual is arrested for criminal activity.
Further, my colleagues and I have also directed City staff they shall not aid in the creation of a registry or database that is based on a person’s religious affiliation, race, national or ethnic origin, immigration status, gender, or sexual identity or orientation or share any data that may have inadvertently been collected. Our Council is committed to do all we can to ensure all citizens in Santa Monica live without fear and feel respected and welcomed. All members of our community should be able to live in peace without fear or hesitation of interacting with any member of their local government.
Maintaining a diverse and inclusive city is one of our Council’s top priorities. Historically, we have promoted programs and policies that protect those who live and work in our city and fostered a community based on tolerance and inclusivity. Now this is more important than ever.
As a community we celebrate our diversity. 23% of our residents are foreign-born immigrants. We welcome four million of our 8.3 million annual visitors from places outside of the United States. The strength of our community lies in this diversity. It makes us a vibrant, healthy and innovative city. All of our residents and workers contribute to the economic and social fabric of Santa Monica by establishing and patronizing businesses, contributing to arts and culture and achieving significant educational accomplishments.
We will be working with the community to provide information on laws and rights and to create a conversation to help us know what to communicate to our county, state and federal representatives about what support we need locally to protect our neighbors and defend our values. Last week, we partnered with local community organizers and hosted our first Immigration Community Forum. Hundreds of Santa Monicans attended. I heard concerns about keeping families together, how to say safe and where to find resources. Our staff will continue to work with the community and hold additional meetings and “know your rights” legal clinics as needed and continue the dialogue between the community and the City’s leaders. Join us as we look for opportunities to partner with local organizations on a citywide campaign of solidarity against the Administration’s actions on immigration to keep Santa Monica a diverse, culturally rich, dynamic, caring community.
I encourage you to be informed, get involved and help make a difference.
Santa Monica City Mayor