By Robb Davis and Lucas Frerichs
In the past several weeks we have had the opportunity to meet and stand with a broad variety of members of the Davis and Yolo County community who have come together to express concerns about potential outcomes of the recent presidential election. Specifically, we have been asked to describe the commitments the City of Davis has made to its residents as a sanctuary city—something Davis has been for the past thirty years.
We provide the following as background to the City’s historical commitments in this regard and a reminder of our intentions going forward.
In 1986, the city of Davis passed Resolution 5407, a resolution affirming the support of the city of Davis for efforts to provide sanctuary to refugees fleeing persecution in Central America, particularly in El Salvador and Guatemala. In 2007, the City Council passed Resolution 07-162, which reaffirmed the sanctuary city status and broadened the wording to include all undocumented residents. In addition, in 2007, the City Council passed Resolution 07-123, which denounced human rights violations occurring during immigration raids.
Most recently, on November 5, 2014 the Davis City Council unanimously reaffirmed these prior actions, adding:
(T)he City of Davis once again reaffirms its declaration as a City of Sanctuary, recognizing its past commitment both to refugees and undocumented migrants to this country, and provides itself as a safe community until they can return to their homelands or until they receive federally-recognized residency in the United States; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Davis actively supports community outreach to educate the city’s population about these past resolutions, and therefore city policy, by:
- Encouraging City staff to provide outreach about Davis being a City of Sanctuary, and
- Adding signage in the city to demonstrate the city’s commitment to its entire community, regardless of identity, and
- Communicating the resolution to local, state and national representatives.
As staff noted at that time:
(S)anctuary status means that our police officers or other city officials, during the course of duty, do not take documented status into account when they encounter individuals in Davis. Documented status is not a factor in interactions or provision of city services/access to city facilities. It is a federal, not a local, issue. Sanctuary City status does not mean that undocumented residents are permitted to break the law or local code without ramifications. An individual violating a law or local code would be cited or arrested as the violation dictated but during an interaction with the city an individual would not be required to provide proof of residency. The Sanctuary City policy is only applied within the city limits; it does not apply to the county or to other jurisdictions.
We remind residents of these past decisions because of recent statements by President-elect Trump that he will withhold all federal funds from such cities. It is important to note that the designation of sanctuary city has no precise legal meaning. Also, it is important to note that the City of Davis receives a variety of types of federal funding, most notably Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and various transportation grants, among others, in a given year.
To date, the President-elect has not defined what he means by a sanctuary city, nor by what method, or in relation to which funds, he intends to act. Nor, frankly, is it clear what the President’s latitude is in this regard. Whatever the case, our prior actions stand and will guide practice going forward
Davis is home to several hundred undocumented high school and university students who were brought to this country by parents who were, themselves, undocumented. They are members of both the UC Davis and City of Davis community and have been promised certain protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program initiated by President Obama in June 2012 . Our sanctuary status extends to these students.
Further, the entire Central Valley of California, including Davis, is home to unknown numbers of undocumented residents. The vast majority of them are active, contributing, and law- abiding members of our community. Davis’ sanctuary city status communicates to them that they can live here without fear of reprisal, without fear of unlawful detention, and that they can trust our peace officers, especially in matters pertaining to public safety and well-being.
Of course, immigration reform is certainly beyond the purview of a local jurisdiction such as Davis. However, it is our shared desire that for those who live here in peace, and who contribute in so many meaningful ways to our local and national economy, to find respite in the current uncertainty occasioned by the recent national election. Offering them these guarantees helps to assure they will engage with local law enforcement if they are the victims of crime, rather than eschew participation for fear of being deported.
Beyond our sanctuary city status we want to assure all groups who have heard threatening comments directed at their respective community—be they Muslims, other international students or visitors, or members of the LGBTQIA community—that City leadership and the Davis Police Department take seriously any threats made against such groups. As an example, Mayor Davis and Chief of Police Pytel recently reaffirmed Davis’ commitment to confronting hate incidences at a press conference led by the Yolo County District Attorney and joined by School District and County elected officials after a hate letter was sent to our local mosque—the Davis Islamic Center.
Our police stand ready to meet with leaders of any community group to discuss security issues and we are extremely appreciative that our fellow community members are vigilant and desire to protect the rights of each member of our community.
We are also cognizant that there are members of our community who support the President-elect’s stated goals, including those related to immigrants. We respect their right to hold such views and to advocate for them, privately and publicly. These views are also protected by the same inalienable rights, (including freedom of speech), that we all hold dear, and that apply to all community members. They too must feel secure as members of our community.