Sanctuary city

On Jan. 19, 2017, Raquel Maria Dillon reporting for NBC Bay Area News, announced that the Alameda City Council had voted unanimously on Jan. 17, 2017, to join what was then a growing list of “sanctuary cities” for undocumented immigrants.

Furthermore, Vice Mayor Malia Vella was quoted to say that “she wanted the vote to send a message that the city would protect civil liberties and civil rights” even for non-citizens. At the time, Alameda was bracing for stepped up immigration enforcement under President Donald Trump.

Assuming that our January 17 resolution was more than an anti-Trump knee jerk response, the present could finally be Alameda’s opportunity to translate lofty words and generous promises into meaningful action.

Since January 2021, nearly four million immigrants have crossed into the United States; many of them are still looking for a safe start, Alameda could be that haven.

On September 11, Vice President Kamala Harris assured our nation on “Meet the Press” that “The border is secure.” Blame it on many years of teaching geometry in public education, but I have developed both an eye and an ear for incongruencies. As Chico Marx says in the 1933 documentary, DUCK SOUP, “Who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?”

A fraction of these four million have literally, and very temporarily, shown up at the Vice President’s front door and some have momentarily encroached on a former president’s exclusive island. In both locations they were mysteriously whisked away before setting up camp or getting to shop for souvenirs.

As Rob DeSantis assures immigrants arriving in Florida, “The legislature gave me $12 million. We’re going to spend every penny of that to make sure that we are protecting the people of the state of Florida.”

DeSantis has publicly recognized there are “a whole bunch of other places” to send people.

“This way, these sanctuary jurisdictions can put their money where their mouth is,” DeSantis added without identifying Alameda per se.

Governor Greg Abbott who has been busing migrants from Texas to New York City and Washington, D.C., has been getting inexplicable blow back from these self-designated, proudly proclaimed sanctuary cities. In D.C. the migrants disembarked from their bus at the very seat of power, the home of our Vice President. Nonetheless, those migrants did not remain in that welcoming sanctuary neighborhood for long.

Some states, that never thumped their chest to boast sanctuary status, are overwhelmed by immigrants. Del Rio, Texas, a city of 34,500 people, had more than 49,500 migrant encounters in July alone. By contrast, and no one is suggesting this is relevant, the year-round population of Martha’s Vineyard is 17,000 people. This idyllic island welcomed just 50 migrants for a few hours, before being overwhelmed and whisking them away to the mainland, without an iota of protest from empathic residents.

A California governor called the transporting of immigrants to the safety of sanctuaries, kidnapping. As Mayor Eric Adams of New York City and the Mayor of El Paso agreed, “these migrants and asylum seekers are not coming to any particular city, they’re coming to America,” one city is as good as the next and Alameda could voluntarily elect to be one such city.

If California is sending economic and political refugees to Texas, should not Texas have the right to reciprocate and send refugees to California?

Were Alameda to send a message to the governors of Texas and Florida that Alameda is a Sanctuary City and our motto reads: “Everyone Belongs Here” we could honor our pledge that the Alameda City Council had voted unanimously for on January 17, 2017.

Or we could ignore the crisis, hunker down and risk looking like hypocrites hoping no one will notice.

— Jeffrey R Smith