The Santa Ana City Council this week unanimously approved a resolution calling on President Obama to stop the deportation of Samuel Sixtos-Gomez, a city resident turned over to immigration authorities in violation of the Trust Act.
Council members also called for the president to “protect our families from destructive application of unjust immigration laws.” And they admonished the Orange County Sheriff’s Department for violating state law when officers transferred Sixtos-Gomez to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The Trust Act, passed in 2014, bars police agencies from transferring undocumented immigrants charged with low-level offenses over to ICE. The Sheriff’s Department acknowledged it broke the law in 2014 when it transferred Sixtos-Gomez into ICE custody.
However, because the Trust Act is state law, the federal government isn’t required to unwind Sixtos-Gomez’s deportation proceedings. The council resolution also declared that the Sheriff’s Department “should be held accountable” for the Trust Act violation.
Sixtos-Gomez was present at the council meeting and told council members that he didn’t eat for a week while in ICE custody (he was reportedly on a hunger strike) and that he wasn’t allowed to see his family.
“I think it was unfair… it was only a traffic ticket, not for me to be with ICE,” Sixtos-Gomez said in describing the offense that led to his ordeal.
Council members said they wanted to pass the resolution to send a message to other police agencies that they need to be aware of the Trust Act and to obey its prohibition against handing minor offenders over to ICE.
They also said they felt they needed to take a stand as the rhetoric around immigration has intensified nationally since Republican front-runner Donald Trump entered the presidential race last summer and made building a border wall his signature issue.
“We’re here to remind others we do have a law in the state that needs to be followed and we can’t abrogate those responsibilities,” said Councilman Vincent Sarmiento. “When people don’t feel like they can trust local law enforcement or law enforcement agencies, they don’t report crimes… what we’re doing here is making sure we have a more just and more safe society.”
Added Councilman Roman Reyna: “One of the greatest harms out there is for a family to be ripped apart.”