On April 25, 2017, the City of Anaheim will not decide whether or not the city will be a sanctuary for immigrants.
Instead, we will have orchestrated political theatre with Lucille Kring as the initial playwright.
I start with this metaphor because that is the brutal reality of Lucille Kring’s agenda item to decide whether or not to make a Anaheim a “Sanctuary City.” The proposal is a distraction to the complex conversation that Lucille Kring has neglected to have publicly (see video of the last city council meeting). The proposal isn’t isolated however; it represents a legacy of petty political actions by similar actors that create negative collateral consequences that perpetuate political apathy and institutional dysfunction.
Before I continue however, I want to be clear about premises in my analysis. As a community organizer for the Orange County Congregation Community Organization and as a student at UCLA, I’ve engaged my students and have practiced in what is called: challenging the idea not the person. Before starting a meeting with my students or among peers on campus we agree to what are called “community agreements.” In community gatherings and in student organizing spaces we encourage dialogue among divergent point of views but only on shared agreements. One of the leading agreements is if you disagree with someone’s point of view on an issue to not attack someone directly but to rather address their idea/proposal in order to collectively dissect its fallacies and move forward together. Everyone comes into spaces with different historical social locations and as community we respect and affirm those histories through the agreement.
Kring’s proposal is not a proposal to engage in a critical conversation around whether or not the City of Anaheim is a Sanctuary City but rather an attempt to insight vehement reactions by people on both sides of the aisle. Anaheim is no rookie to such proposals; around this time last year the City of Anaheim became national news because of Councilmember Kris Murray’s proposal to “condemn” Donald Trump’s “divisive rhetoric.” The headlines and Facebook videos that spread through the public were not centered on the complexity and even the legality of the proposal but rather on the passionate reactions by protesters and supporters.
Kring’s current proposal is a rushed attempt to distract the public from the informed conversation the council needs to have with its departments and partners who work on the issue of immigration. In order to justify the proposal, Kring has mentioned the need for the public to have an answer stating that they “need to know where the council stands on the issue.”
Symbolic gestures by government entities create ripple effects beyond the concrete policies written in the law. As a public we must raise critical questions before public discourse answers the wrong question presented by Kring’s proposal. Does the Anaheim Police Department truly cooperate with ICE? Given the past resentment from Murray and Kring on Councilmember Moreno’s Immigration Taskforce, don’t we already know where they both stand? Does rushing this proposal on the agenda do more harm than good to the City of Anaheim?
Kring asking the city council to vote on the issue presents an already assumed answer. The protection of undocumented immigrants isn’t and shouldn’t ever be a political stunt but was used on the campaign trail just last year and is being used again in order to insight petty political drama. What are we teaching our young students? That rushing for an answer is the best way to approach policy? If Kring prevails and the council strikes the resolution out of fear, will undocumented students show up to class? Will people stop showing up to doctor’s appointments? When will politicians prioritize actual policy over political theatre?
Francisco Aviles Pino, a Community Organizer for the Orange County Congregation Community Organization and a student at UCLA
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