Solana Beach council takes stance against “zero tolerance”

Solana Beach City Hall
(Sebastian Montes)

A small city on Southern California’s coast has little clout when it comes to the federal government.

That didn’t stop Solana Beach’s City Council from making a statement this week opposing the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy on immigrants crossing the border without authorization and the separation of children from arrested parents and guardians.

In response to a request from Councilman Peter Zahn, the panel voted 4-0 on Wednesday, June 27, with Councilwoman Lesa Heebner absent, to approve his proposed resolution voicing opposition to the administration’s policy and tactics.

“We’ve got a president who’s glad to subject migrants to inhumane treatment, using children as hostages,” said Zahn, noting that President Donald Trump’s recent announcement suspending family separations did not overturn the zero tolerance policy.

“This resolution before the council is an opportunity to show that we won’t tolerate the zero tolerance policy and to communicate our message and elevate it in hopes that other government and nongovernment bodies will express their outrage as well,” Zahn said.

The city received numerous letters and emails supporting approval of the resolution. Residents Lisa Montes and Cindi Clemons spoke to the council in favor.

“The Trump policy is meant as a deterrent and it sends a cruel message,” resident Clemons told the council. “I agree that we need reform of our immigration policy, but this is not the American way.”

The president and administration officials contended the measures announced in April were necessary to throttle what they say is uncontrolled immigration threatening national security.

Recently, however, publicity on the effects of those policies, including the housing of children, from babies to teens, in enclosures and the inability of the immigration system to cope with escalating detentions, has led to a nationwide backlash.

Around the country, numerous counties and cities, especially those with large immigrant populations, have taken positions against the zero tolerance policy and family separations.

Only about 30 miles from the nation’s border with Mexico, Solana Beach has a population of nearly 14,000, according to state Department of Finance estimates released May 1.

The city’s Latino population was estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau at about 13 percent last year. One of the area’s oldest neighborhoods, La Colonia de Eden Gardens, was settled in the early 1900s by Mexican immigrants, and many of their descendants still live in or have ties to the community.

Wednesday’s council action was not its first position on immigration issues. In 2016, the council voted to declare itself as a “welcoming city” willing to help new immigrants and refugees assimilate in the community.

Last November, the council voted to send a message to Congress in support of the Deferred Action For Children Arrivals program, also known as the Dream Act. It was enacted by President Barack O’Bama’s administration to shield the children of unauthorized immigrant parents from deportation.

In voting for Zahn’s resolution, David Zito, the city’s acting mayor, said, “I don’t think it’s any surprise that I’m in full support. I wish I didn’t have to be, but it is what it is.”

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