The Politics of Immigration in Cypress

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As public officials throughout Southern California race to take public stances on immigration issues in the wake of Arizona’s controversial new immigration law, some are facing the political and economic consequences.

The latest place where taking such a stance has become politically dangerous seems to be the city of Cypress. Last week Councilman Phil Luebben presented resolutions in support of the Arizona law, which allows police to stop people and check their immigration status.

Leubben’s colleagues wanted nothing to do with his resolutions — none would second either of them.

Undeterred, Luebben said he will at Monday’s meeting introduce even more strongly worded resolutions in favor of establishing laws similar to Arizona’s. However, based on a recent e-mail to Luebben from a fellow councilmember, it seems likely that his colleagues will have the same response as they did last week.

Luebben won’t say who sent him the e-mail, but he did share a portion of it with Voice of OC. Here is what it said:

“…Did you ever give any thought on how this will effect [sic] our relationship with other agencies? You know right now, as I am writing to you, a Hispanic congresswoman from Santa Ana (Loretta Sanchez) is carrying our water on a $17 million runway proposal…

…This was the critical element of the JFTB (Joint Forces Training Base) agreement to stop composting and eliminate their enhanced land usage plans. You may have single handedly put all of that at risk…”

Cypress’ Mayor Prakash Narain, M.D, Mayor Pro Tem Doug Bailey and Councilman Leroy Mills are up for re-election this November. Narain and Mills are on the JFTB Military Affairs Ad Hoc Committee. Also, Narain attended a Mayor’s meeting with Sanchez regarding the JFTB composting issue in Garden Grove, according to council records.

The city of Cypress, with surrounding cities, asked the L.A. County Board of Supervisors as well as the O.C. Board of Supervisors for support on securing $17 million in federal funds to fix the runway.

The concerns among Cypress council members are not unfounded.

Costa Mesa City Council’s vote to become a “Rule of Law” city angered members of the state legislature’s Latino Caucus members and, as Voice of OC reported, could end up throwing a wrench in the city’s purchase of the fairgrounds.

It also nearly cost a Costa Mesa hotel an upcoming conference, according to this story in the Los Angeles Times. The California State Employees Assn. Retirees Inc. inquired about canceling its reservation with the Hilton Orange County in Costa Mesa, but decided not to after learning that it would have to pay $10,000 to go ahead with the cancellation.

Todd W. Seymore, Cypress councilman, said at the council’s last meeting, “As a city, we’ve already supported immigration laws.” He went on to say, “This is a redundant issue. We’ve already — as a city — sent letters supporting this issue.”

In early 2006, the Cypress council signed letters for the city of Costa Mesa in support of their efforts to enforce the federal immigration law. The Orange County Register reported, “At that time, Costa Mesa’s city council voted to allow federal agents in their city jails to check immigration status of the inmates.”

Luebben, regarding his first attempt with the resolutions, said, “I’m not surprised item 19 (one of the resolutions) didn’t pass in this council.” He considers the move “meaningless” and wanted to bring the issue forward to the attention of the public and the city council. “There’s something happening in this council that’s different.”



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