Santa Ana City Council members unanimously agreed on Monday night to adopt a resolution rebuking Arizona’s recent law allowing police to demand verification of a person’s immigration status at any time.
The council’s action was among several over the past week or so that show immigratin is back as a top-drawer election issue in Orange County. But Santa Ana will likely be the only local body to officially denounce Arizona’s new law.
On the dais Monday, all council members and Mayor Miguel Pulido were all on the same page, criticizing the law.
But one councilman’s small abstention on a portion of the council resolution indicates that city officials had some sort of private debate over the matter before the council session.
“I’ve been going around and around the language on this, we’ve had three different versions,” said Councilman Carlos Bustamante before voting on the public resolution that was on the agenda.
Bustamante — the council’s sole Republican — abstained from voting on the first section of the resolution, which outlines the council’s opposition to the Arizona law saying it violates federal laws and invites racial profiling. Bustamante cited his former law enforcement experience as the basis for opposing the section. Pulido then allowed him to vote affirmatively on the resolution but abstain from it’s main section.
Reacting to undisclosed private pressures on members, City Councilwoman Michele Martinez said from the dais, “I’m not sitting here today for any political agenda. It hurts me that anyone would say we’re bringing this for political reasons. This council is doing this for the right reasons, not for political reasons.”
“Today we are united,” Martinez said before the council approved the resolution on a 7-0 vote.
Yet when it comes to immigration, unity seems to be a rare event.
Mayoral candidate Alfredo Amezcua challenged council members from the public podium to “take it one step further.”
Amezcua urged the all-Latino city council to send a stronger message: “Launch an economic boycott of the state of Arizona.”
He said city leaders should follow the steps of other cities and promote the vendors we work with on a daily basis to avoid Arizona business.
The Arizona law seems to be the latest incarnation of the national issue that seemed to go to sleep after the 2006 mid-term elections. That year, the immigration debate raged hot with national legislation being debated while millions took to the streets in marches. In that campaign cycle, virtually every candidate vying for elective office proposed options for immigration.
The issue helped former Sheriff Mike Carona squeak through his primary election, avoiding a November runoff. Just weeks before the primary, Carona touted his 287g program, which deputizes deputies to do immigration checks in jail.
Even a county supervisors race in South County centered more on immigration than transportation or other local issues.
While this year’s mid-term election have up to now been dominated by the economy and health care, Arizona may have lit a fire that will be generating tons of campaign mail as politicians try to dial in on an issue with the ability to move voters to the polls.
Last month, Costa Mesa Mayor Allan Mansoor – who is running as a Republican in the 68th state assembly district in November – reintroduced the issue by having a city press conference announcing unspecified changes coming soon to the local police department. His announcement came within a week of the Arizona law although Mansoor said there’s no connection.
It will be interesting to see what Mansoor’s election mailers look like…
Let us know what kind of immigration-related campaign mailers you’re getting at home. You can email me at email@example.com
— NORBERTO SANTANA, JR.