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Menlo Park approves 'Safe City' ordinance

Ordinance would codify police practices on responding to ICE detention requests

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For what was at least the third time, a group of adults and kids sat in on the Menlo Park Council meeting, many of them supporters of two ordinances and a resolution laying out policies on how people who have immigrated illegally to the U.S. should be treated in Menlo Park.

When the council on May 23 voted 3-1, with Councilman Peter Ohtaki opposed and Councilwoman Catherine Carlton absent, to give preliminary approval to a "Safe City" ordinance setting limits on police cooperation with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), applause erupted from most of the attendees.

The "Safe City" ordinance essentially codifies current police practice with regard to cooperating with ICE and creates a punishment for violating the law. It also prohibits police from participating in immigration sweeps conducted by ICE.

Under the ordinance, which is scheduled to return to the council for final approval on June 20, Menlo Park police will not comply with ICE requests to hold someone beyond the time that person would otherwise be held. However, exceptions could be made for persons already convicted of a felony that is serious, violent or punishable by a year in state prison, or who have been convicted of a crime that is listed in the California Government Code 7282.5, such as a felony DUI.

The California Trust Act in 2014 established that local law enforcement agencies should not cooperate with ICE to honor civil detainer requests, or requests ICE makes of law enforcement agencies to hold onto someone up to 48 hours beyond their release date.

But the Trust Act includes a set of exceptions that permit police to honor such ICE requests, and exceptions included in the Menlo Park ordinance align for the most part with those in the Trust Act. Menlo Park, however, will not cooperate with ICE on the grounds of probable-cause suspicion, which is an exception included in the Trust Act.

The council also gave preliminary approval to an ordinance prohibiting the use of city resources to gather "sensitive information" about people (such as their race, ethnicity, religion or country of origin) for a national registry. The ordinance, originally proposed by Councilman Ray Mueller and adopted on a 4-0 vote, relates to concerns that President Trump might order the creation a Muslim registry, which he discussed on the campaign trail.

The council also passed on a 4-0 vote a resolution proposed by Councilman Ohtaki that calls on Congress to adopt comprehensive immigration reform.

Such reform, the resolution says, should lay out ways for people to earn legal residency, offer a clear path to citizenship, address the question of future immigration for families and workers, improve immigration enforcement and the border patrol in a way that "is consistent with our nation's values," and find a way to fund the costs such changes might create for city governments.

'Safe City' ordinance

"Safe City" – rather than "Sanctuary City" or "City of Refuge" – is the name the council chose to call the ordinance governing police cooperation with ICE.

According to Cmdr. Dave Bertini, the police department already has a policy that it does not ask people about their immigration status unless it relates to certain crimes – for example, if someone is the victim of a hate crime because of his or her perceived undocumented status.

Council members discussed what exceptions should be made for police cooperation with federal immigration officials, and agreed that only those convicted, not just suspected, of serious felonies would be eligible for an exception. Police could still exercise discretion on whether to cooperate with ICE.

The ordinance may actually have little effect in Menlo Park because the police typically hold people for only a few hours before they are booked at the San Mateo County jail.

The San Mateo County Sheriff's Office, which administers the county jail, does not comply with civil detainer requests from ICE, but it does give federal immigration officials information about when detainees will be released from jail because that is considered a public record.

The police department may still work with federal immigration officials on some task forces unrelated to immigration enforcement, Cmdr. Bertini said.

Council members Rich Cline, Kirsten Keith and Ray Mueller supported the ordinance, but it was opposed by Peter Ohtaki. He read a statement from Councilwoman Carlton saying she opposes it, but she was absent and did not vote.

Councilman Ohtaki noted that the ordinance does not really change police practice, and expressed concern that more than just the expected $70,000 in federal funds the city currently receives from the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security could be at risk.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, is run through the Department of Homeland Security, he said. He works in emergency management, and said he doesn't want to take the chance of antagonizing the purse-string holders for emergency response funding.

Some locals also opposed the ordinance, mostly in writing, before the council's discussion, saying they thought the action was illegal.

"There's an argument being made that what we're doing is somehow illegal," said Councilman Mueller. "State law gives us the power to do this."

The ordinance will be reviewed by the council in a year, and the Police Department will be expected to provide a report if there are any scenarios when the ordinance has affected police decisions, according to the council's direction.

Senate Bill 54, which would essentially make California a "sanctuary state," would likely supersede local policies, if it is passed. The Menlo Park council voted unanimously to submit a letter of support for the bill.

The council has taken other actions regarding treatment of people who have immigrated illegally.

On Jan. 24, the council unanimously passed a resolution saying Menlo Park is committed to a "diverse, supportive, inclusive and protective" community.

On April 18 it passed a "welcoming city" resolution, agreeing to make a plan to figure out what the goals, audience, work plan and resources for making the city more welcoming to immigrants should be.

The council also voted to file an amicus curiae brief in support of a Santa Clara County lawsuit against President Trump's executive order to withhold federal funds from so-called "sanctuary jurisdictions." On April 25, a federal judge granted a temporary injunction in the case halting the enforcement of the executive order.

In other business at the May 23 meeting, the council:

• Held a study session with the South Bay Waste Management Authority to talk about renewing a contract and studying customer rates for trash, recycling and compost.

• Reappointed Michael Meyer to the city's new Complete Streets Commission.

• Recognized the retirement of assistant public works director Ruben Nino.

• Approved the Housing Commission's work plan, set to last two years.

Earlier stories:

• January 24: Menlo Park council considers 'sanctuary city' proposal

• March 22: Menlo Park council backs suit challenging Trump's 'sanctuary city' order

• April 5: Menlo Park council postpones meeting on 'sanctuary city' ordinance

• April 18: Tonight: Menlo Park weighs 'sanctuary city' status

• April 26: Menlo Park council show support for 'sanctuary' ordinances


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23 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on May 25, 2017 at 1:31 pm

pearl is a registered user.

"...laying out policies on how people who have immigrated ILLEGALLY to the U.S. should be treated in Menlo Park."

There's only one way ILLEGALS in America should be treated!!! The countries from which they ILLEGALLY came are responsible for them - ship them back!!!

I am tired of my taxpayer dollars being spent on ILLEGALS for free health care, free housing, free education, free welfare benefits, etc., etc. What's the matter with you people?!? Shame, shame on you!!! Take care of your fellow Americans first!!!

Vote "NO" on the "Safe City" ordinance!!!

12 people like this
Posted by Pearl for Mayor
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 25, 2017 at 1:50 pm

A common sense approach to a problem based on law and not emotions.
Pear is spot on.

31 people like this
Posted by Law & Order
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 25, 2017 at 2:00 pm

Let's not burden our fine police with this ridiculous task - I support Sanctuary status.

So do the police, in town after town.

"Police chiefs across the country support sanctuary cities because they keep crime down"

from the LATimes:

"Police chiefs know that today’s unreported domestic violence or sexual assault or robbery can become tomorrow’s reported homicide."


"First, the current system of enforcement is a logical division of labor in which all parties know what is expected of them. Federal agencies, such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), enforce immigration laws, which are federal statutes. Local police agencies enforce state and local criminal laws. These roles are compatible and complementary.

Second, local police have their hands full — investigating murders, robberies, sexual assaults, burglaries, thefts and other crimes, and working to prevent these and other crimes from occurring. When local police identify a suspect and have probable cause, they make the arrest, without regard to the suspect’s immigration status.

Finally, police chiefs warn that if their agencies are required to enforce federal immigration laws, it will hurt their ability to investigate and solve serious crimes in their communities. If people are afraid to have contact with the local police, they will not report crime, serve as witnesses, or tell police what is going on in their neighborhoods. Without information from the community, investigating crime becomes difficult and crime levels rise."

Support Menlo Park's finest - support Sanctuary City status.

23 people like this
Posted by Enuff
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 25, 2017 at 2:01 pm

So the majority of our City Council members evidently represent criminal illegal aliens instead of the legal residents who voted for them.
At least Peter voted against this insanity.

This Council seems determined to make Menlo Park a magnet for criminal illegal aliens.
And now we stand to lose federal dollars from non-compliance with federal law.
Since when does our City Council get to put the law-abiding residents of our city out of compliance with our Federal Government?
And whom do we sue when the first Menlo Park resident is robbed, beaten, attacked, raped or killed by someone our City Council "protected" from an ICE deportation?

32 people like this
Posted by Law & Order
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 25, 2017 at 2:28 pm

- "So the majority of our City Council members evidently represent..." the wishes of LAW ENFORCEMENT NATIONALLY (see above)

- "This Council seems determined to make Menlo Park a magnet for criminal illegal aliens" Wrong. Prove your hyperbole, if you want to try.

- "And now we stand to lose federal dollars from non-compliance with federal law." Again - wrong. Won't happen. You listen to Trump, well, that's your problem.

Want to stop the flow of undocumented workers (already well reduced from previous highs, under guidance of the last president)? Then call for laws against corporations hiring undocumented workers, or using contractors who hire undocumented workers.

Ask Peter and the GOP to put THAT law in place. And then watch them laugh in your face as they protect their donors' profits.

23 people like this
Posted by civil
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 25, 2017 at 3:15 pm

Dear @ Enuff, you are confused about criminal and civil law.

"So the majority of our City Council members evidently represent criminal illegal aliens..."

Immigration law is civil not criminal. Any foreigner (even one here with a visa) that marries a US citizen can accidentally create civil immigration problems that ban them from entering the country to be with their spouse. The "crime" in your scenario would be to get married without going through the proper process. I we all know, marriage is a civil matter.

Crimes, especially violent crimes, are more likely to be committed by citizens. Let's not be a community that has decent folks living in fear.

13 people like this
Posted by Enuff
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 25, 2017 at 4:37 pm

Dear Civil,

Intentionally or not, you have articulated what I think is the fundamental misunderstanding about "sanctuary cities".
When I wrote "criminal" I meant "criminal"--as in someone who commits a crime, aside from, or in addition to, being in the country illegally.
That's what "sanctuary" cities do: they provide sanctuary for illegal aliens who commit additional crimes while in American illegally.

As I understand it, these cities refuse to cooperate with ICE when a convicted criminal alien is being released from prison. That person, according to federal law, must be deported. But some cities "protect" that convicted criminal, allowing him to stay in their community, where he may then go on to commit other crimes.
That's the issue--it's not about rounding up every person here illegally, as some people seem to think.

21 people like this
Posted by Read the ordinance
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 25, 2017 at 5:29 pm

You should try reading the ordinance you are commenting on. All the City Council did was codify already existing state law and make it clear only felons as defined by the state law can be detained. Other than that the ordinance makes it clear the City of Menlo Park police can't work with ICE in immigration sweeps of undocumented residents who are just simply living here as law abiding residents.

16 people like this
Posted by Law & Order
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 25, 2017 at 5:33 pm

- "We will lose $$$$$ from federal grants and aid" No, that's wrong. We won't.

- Further, we will subject our citizens here with all types of aliens" Have you looked around much?

- "Trump is the President" How's that working out for you?

- "You're acting like little children!" By pointing out that law enforcement around the country supports sanctuary status?


"Police chiefs across the country support sanctuary cities because they keep crime down"

41 people like this
Posted by Read the Ordinance
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 25, 2017 at 5:52 pm

Trump may be President, but he isn't King. The state law that City Council codified was enacted in 2014. Have you read it?
Have you read the ordinance the Council passed. My assumption is you haven't read either yet based on your post. The sky isn't going to fall, and "aliens" aren't going to magically start moving en-masse to Menlo Park. How do we know that, because it happened yet and the Government Code has been in place in the state for three years. Regarding Trump, even Councilmember Ohtaki conceded during the meeting the only reason he was afraid of voting for the ordinance was because the Trump administration is so strange. By the way, Councilmember Ohtaki voted for the anti-registry ordinance. So save us the Fox News diatribe gloom and doom. Law abiding undocumented residents should be left to live in peace to contribute to the economy and pursue chasing the American Dream. This was the policy under Ronald Reagan for pete's sake.

6 people like this
Posted by DonnyH
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 26, 2017 at 4:00 pm

DonnyH is a registered user.

Sanctuary Cities are nothing more than holding pens for prey for Illegal Alien Criminals. Never mentioned is the existence of the U Visa which protects Illegal Aliens who report or are a victim of crime. I wonder why?

From the NY Times
U.S.Sanctuary Bills in Maryland Faced a Surprise Foe: Legal Immigrants

"The failure of the sanctuary bills in Maryland reveals a potentially troublesome fissure for Democrats as they rush to defy Mr. Trump. Their party has staked out an activist position built around protecting undocumented immigrants. But it is one that has alienated many who might have been expected to support it."

Obama administration has admitted that Sanctuary Cities are a problem:
Web Link

But, within the above letter, doesn't really address what the Obama administration will actually do about it to protect US Citizens:

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link

IGS poll: Californians oppose sanctuary city policies

"Californians strongly oppose “sanctuary city” policies under which local authorities ignore federal requests to detain undocumented immigrants who have been arrested but are about to be released, according to a new poll released today by the Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) at UC Berkeley."

5 people like this
Posted by DonnyH
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 26, 2017 at 4:00 pm

DonnyH is a registered user.

Web Link
The Problem With Downplaying Immigrant Crime

Web Link
Information on Incarcerations, Arrests, and Costs

Web Link
Criminal immigrants reoffend at higher rates than ICE has suggested

5 people like this
Posted by DonnyH
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 26, 2017 at 4:03 pm

DonnyH is a registered user.

Web Link
National Sheriffs’ Association Position Paper on Comprehensive Immigration Reform

The National Sheriffs' Association's press release reaffirmed organization's stance articulated in its 2013 position paper on immigration policy. (Id.)In the paper, the Association advocated for effective and efficient securing of the border, enforcement of the immigration laws currently on the books, requiring information sharing between local law enforcement and federal immigration officials, withholding federal reimbursement money from jurisdictions who refuse to cooperate with immigration officials, and strengthening employer verification requirements, among other things. (National Sheriff's Association, Jun. 25, 2013) The paper concluded, "The National Sheriffs' Association strongly opposes outright amnesty for those individuals currently here illegally. Amnesty does not work. When granted in 1986, it did little to stop the flow of illegal individuals from coming across the borders and, in fact, contributed to thousands of fraudulent applications for amnesty."

Web Link
Bristol County, Massachusetts Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson

"No longer can we sit idle while the inaction of our Federal Government marginalizes our ability to preserve public safety, enforce our laws, and protect the Constitutional rights of all who legitimately reside and work in our communities."

From KCRA News:
Sacramento sheriff criticizes Obama on immigration

"Jones vowed to crusade against illegal immigration after the shooting rampage last month by a Mexican man with a long criminal history who was in the country illegally."

From Breitbart:
BREAKING: Pier 14 Murder Suspect Had Been Deported 5 Times with 7 Felonies

"Five-time deportee and seven-time convicted felon Francisco Sanchez has been jailed on suspicion of shooting and killing 31-year-old Kathryn Steinle Wednesday evening while taking photos with her father at Pier 14 in San Francisco, California. Sanchez was freed after the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department refused to honor a request by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain him, following a policy adopted in 2014. He was arrested soon after the shooting."

Web Link
By The Way, Ice Just Release 30,558 More Violent Criminal Illegal Aliens Onto American Streets

Web Link
ICE Document Details 36,000 Criminal Alien Releases in 2013

Web Link
U.S. misinformed Congress, public on immigrant release

From The Hill:
DHS document: 68,000 illegal immigrants with criminal convictions released in 2013

From The Blaze:
Thousands of Illegal Immigrants Released — Including 3,000 With Felony Charges or Convictions

5 people like this
Posted by DonnyH
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 26, 2017 at 4:07 pm

DonnyH is a registered user.

There are already current laws that prohibit employers from hiring Illegal Aliens. It's just that they have not been-----enforced!

Web Link
Obama gives free pass to businesses that hire illegals
Audits, fines drop for employers

"President Obama took office vowing to go after unscrupulous employers who hire illegal immigrants, but work site audits have plunged over the last year and a half, according to a report released Tuesday by the Center for Immigration Studies, tumbling along with the rest of immigration enforcement."

24 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 26, 2017 at 6:26 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"There are already current laws that prohibit employers from hiring Illegal Aliens. It's just that they have not been-----enforced!"

Because the businesses that OWN the politicians don't want it enforced.

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