Tustin is a diverse city, where almost 40 percent of residents are Latino and voters who register as Democrats edge out Republican voters.
Thus, the city has reacted with caution to the anti-sanctuary movement that has swept Orange County, starting with the Los Alamitos City Council vote in March to “opt out” of SB 54, the state sanctuary law that protects people living in the country illegally.
But that’s about to change. At the Tustin City Council meeting Tuesday, July 3, City Manager Jeff Parker announced that his staff will put an item regarding SB 54 on an upcoming agenda.
The City Council usually does not meet during August, he said, so the matter will be addressed at its first meeting in September.
Over the past few months, people who live both in and outside of Tustin have regularly attended City Council meetings, where they take turns at the podium condemning the state sanctuary law. As in other cites, some meetings have become boisterous and long.
To the activists’ frustration, council members cannot respond during meetings to public comments made about items not on the agenda.
Mayor Al Murray said in an interview after Tuesday’s meeting that “staff is preparing a report to educate us on the status of SB 54.” He said the report will include a resolution that may come up for a vote.
The July 3 meeting attracted a chamber full of people, rallied in part via social media, to once again urge action. But some of their more passionate concerns were allayed by Parker’s statement at the beginning of the meeting.
Dubbing herself “the petition lady,” resident Maureen Coddington said she would put on hold her attempt to recall council members “pending the result of your vote in September.”
Failing to fight back against SB 54, she said, “makes us a magnet for criminals.”
In its defense, the city points to a letter sent to the state Legislature — unanimously approved last year by council members — expressing opposition to SB 54.
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Tustin has declined legal action, the city says on its website, to avoid “spending limited taxpayer dollars on litigation,” noting that “SB 54 is already being aggressively challenged in federal court.”
The city also clarifies that “SB 54 does not prevent coordination with federal immigration or other law enforcement authorities about gangs or others convicted of murder, rape or other serious felonies.”
Still, some speakers at the recent meeting said they feel less safe in Tustin because of SB 54.
“I see graffiti on multimillion-dollar homes and people who don’t look like they belong here,” a woman said.
Rebuffing that comment, Sarah Rasmussen said, “When I hear someone say, ‘They don’t look like they belong here,’ it breaks my heart.”
Her husband, Bhodi Rasmussen, joined her in support of SB 54, calling the measure’s opponents “a vocal minority.”
“We own five businesses in Tustin and we’re in the process of opening two more restaurants,” he said. “If Tustin chooses not to be a sanctuary city, I would consider suspending the leases on those two businesses and pulling out.”
The Tustin City Council will discuss the staff report on Tuesday, Sept. 4. Meetings begin at 7 p.m.
Source: Oc Register