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Small City Moves To Opt Out Of California Sanctuary Law

The city council in Los Alamitos, Calif., has given its preliminary approval to a measure exempting the city from a state law that limits cooperation between local police and federal immigration agents. Mayor Troy Edgar is seen here on Monday outside Los Alamitos City Hall.

The city council in Los Alamitos, Calif., voted on Monday night to exempt itself from the state's so-called sanctuary law, which limits cooperation between local enforcement and federal immigration agents authorities.

And in the process, the Orange County city of fewer than 12,000 is aligning itself with a harder line on immigration than the more liberal policies adopted elsewhere in California.

The state's sanctuary law, Senate Bill 54, took effect on Jan. 1. And with a 4-1 vote, the Los Alamitos council approved an ordinance to opt out of it.

The council's chambers were packed with people supporting both sides, as the Los Angeles Times reports:

"About 160 people showed up to Monday's regular City Council meeting, a monthly event that rarely draws enough people to fill the 40-seat chamber. Speakers lined up late into the evening to address elected officials, who eventually voted 4 to 1 to approve the ordinance.

'Sometimes things are bigger than we are,' said Mayor Troy D. Edgar.

Cheers erupted inside the chamber after the vote, with some shouting 'Patriots!' and 'This is a win for America!' as others waved pro-Trump flags."

Councilman Warren Kusumoto said the vote wasn't about immigration, according to The Orange County Register. "This council is looking out for the constituents in our city," he said.

The single dissenting vote was cast by Councilman Mark Chirco.

"I cannot see how passing this ordinance would be good for our city," Chirco said, according to the Register.

"We disagree with Sacramento on a lot of things. Are we not going to follow state law every time we disagree with them?" he said, as the Times reports. "I don't think that would be prudent."

Other jurisdictions have made attempts to do the same thing as Los Alamitos, the Times notes. The Shasta County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution last month saying the county isn't a sanctuary jurisdiction.

The 2010 Census found that Los Alamitos was 71 percent white, and 21 percent Hispanic or Latino (of any race). Orange County, in comparison, was 61 percent white, and 34 percent Hispanic or Latino.

The council also voted to have its city attorney write an amicus brief to the Justice Department's lawsuit against the state.

Opinions varied widely among those at the council meeting.

"If you could build a big, beautiful wall along the 605 (Freeway,) even though that would inconvenience me tremendously, I would give you a thumbs up," Long Beach resident Janet Wess told the council, according to the Register.

Pam Rozolis, a resident of the city for 48 years, called the ordinance a "politically charged move which does not reflect all the Los Alamitos residents," the Times reports.

"Our immigrants should not have to live in fear," she said. "It would be a step back to inhumane laws and practices."

For the measure to become a law, the council members must vote again on the proposal. The vote is expected on April 16.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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