Orange City Council votes to pass resolution about sanctuary state bill

sanctuary state

Some Chapman students marched to the Orange City Council chambers April 10 to support California’s status as a sanctuary state.  Photos by Diano Pachote

Story by Jamie Altman, Rebeccah Glaser and Jasmin Sani

The Orange City Council voted April 10 not to comply with sections of the California sanctuary state bill, which many cities in Orange County have joined a lawsuit against.

After an almost six-hour meeting, where nearly 100 people were scheduled to speak, the council members voted 3-2, despite Orange Mayor Tita Smith declaring that the resolution “undermines the atmosphere of trust and inclusion in Orange County.”

Fred Whitaker, Mark Murphy and Kimberlee Nichols voted to pass the resolution, while the opposing side included Smith and Mike Alvarez, who cast his vote despite disapproving of sanctuary cities on a local level.

“I would never want Orange to be a sanctuary city and I would be the first to stand in front of a tank to stop that,” Alvarez said at the end of the meeting.

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Wayne Winthers, Orange city attorney, said he doesn’t believe the passing of this resolution will have much effect in Orange.

“There’s nothing (police officers) have been doing differently since (the bill) came in, therefore they’re not expecting their work to change at all after this council action,” he said.

A sanctuary state limits the city’s cooperation with the federal government when it comes to immigration law and doesn’t use local resources to carry out deportation attempts.

“Where is the sanctuary for the citizens?” said Arthur Schaper, who wore a “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) hat and cloaked himself in an American flag while he spoke at the city council meeting. “I urge the city of Orange to pass this resolution. Let’s make California great again.”

About 30 minutes before the meeting began, Chapman students engaged in a confrontation with people wearing MAGA hats, yelling and debating about racism, criminal activity and illegal immigration for about 10 minutes.

Hiram Uziel, a Los Angeles County resident who has lived in Tustin and supports the lawsuit, temporarily blocked Roni Quinonez, a 23-year-old Anaheim resident, from entering the council chambers.

“The reason why I’m here is because I feel like I’m under attack,” Quinonez told The Panther. “Every other day I’m being attacked because I’m an immigrant, because I represent the left. Either way, my community, my friends, my family are being attacked.”

From the council members’ perspective, the majority of people with liberal views sat on the left side of the chambers, and many with conservative views sat on the right. Almost every time a liberal speaker took the stand, people who supported the lawsuit held up signs that read “Lie” and “No, no, no sanctuary state.”

Attendees on both sides held up signs during the event.

“It’s very outrageous at the lies the opposition brings, the brainwashing that’s there, it’s very frustrating,” Uziel said at the meeting. “I learned about the opposition so I can better refute them, but guess what? I learned the opposition and I was like, ‘Man, I was so wrong. Because I’m so smart like that and intelligent.’”

Much of the debate focused on whether the bill was related to race, national security or immigration enforcement.

Alexis Sutterman, a junior political science major and one of the march’s organizers, told The Panther before the event that she was angry when she found out city council was considering passing the resolution.

“I grew up in Orange County, so seeing so many cities pursue these conservative agendas that are going along with the Trump administration was personally heartbreaking for me to see,” Sutterman said.

Jaylynn Vega, a junior political science major who grew up in Santa Ana, which is a sanctuary city, said she can’t let Orange take part in the lawsuit.

“If (the city council) is going to vote that way, they need to know that our voices need to be heard,” said Vega, who also helped organize the march. “We can actually represent ourselves, if not as a city, at least as a university.”

Senior political science and peace studies major Atty McLellan said at the city council meeting that Orange needs to “sit this one out.” The bill strengthens the trust between immigrants and the police, which in turn increases safety, she said.

Alvarez told The Panther that Orange does not want to house criminals and that it’s discouraging for the police department to arrest someone when he or she can be released because of the sanctuary state bill. But Alvarez also said that no one on the council wants to discourage activism or student participation.

“I totally respect what the students want to do in terms of voicing their opinion … We all welcome anybody’s opinion, thoughts or feelings,” he said.

Jack Belisle contributed to this report.

Correction: An earlier version of this story contained incorrect information about the nature of the resolution that city council passed. This information has been corrected to state that the city council voted to not comply with certain parts of a California bill.