City Stands Up to U.S. President

On Dec. 20, 2016, in anticipation of Donald Trump’s taking office as President of the United States, the City Council directed staff to analyze the potential and realistic financial impacts of declaring Alameda a sanctuary city and to draft legislation supporting such a declaration. 

In addition Councilmembers asked staff to draft a policy instructing the Alameda Police Department (APD) to refuse to honor any request by the Trump  administration to use any APD resources to participate in mass arrests or internments mandated by Trump. Staff also drafted a policy instructing all city departments to refuse to honor any request from the Trump administration to register individuals based on their religious beliefs. 

In addition staff drew up a resolution that reaffirmed the city’s commitment to LGBTQ rights, religious freedoms and racial, social, and economic justice, as well as the city’s assurance that it would adhere to the values of inclusivity, respect and dignity.

On Jan. 17, three days before Trump took office, the City Council adopted the resolution that affirmed the city’s commitment as a sanctuary city “to the values of dignity, inclusivity and respect for all individuals, regardless of ethnic or national origin, gender, race, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, or immigration status.” 

Once in office, Trump directed his administration to implement a policy that requires city managers of cities receiving federal grant money to sign Certifications of Compliance from the Department of Justice. These documents would certify that their cities would not restrict sending or receiving information regarding citizenship or immigration status. 

Alameda was the first city in Alameda County that did not agree to sign this certification. Both the state of California and the City and County of San Francisco filed suit over the required signatures.

If the court decides in favor of the state and San Francisco, Alameda may be able to receive these grant funds in the future.

Now, in order for the city to apply for the Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) from the U.S. Department of Justice, the Trump administration is requiring the city to sign a Certification of Compliance, something it has already refused to do. 

“This requirement does not meet the intent of the city’s sanctuary city resolution. As a result City Manager Jill Keimach and City Attorney Janet Kern, with concurrence from the Police Chief Paul Rolleri will not sign such certification,” the city stated in a press release.

“The City provides public safety for all, regardless of immigration status. Without a signed Certification of Compliance, APD will not be able to accept an award from the Department of Justice.” 

The City of Alameda’s annual budget for services such as police, fire, parks, roads and sidewalks is $249 million. Each year, millions of the city’s budget dollars come from grant funding. For the last 10 years, one source of the city’s grant funding has been the JAG grant, with awards ranging from $32,139 in 2007 to $12,352 in 2016. This year, Alameda’s JAG funding was estimated have been $11,537.

Contact Dennis Evanosky at editor@alamedasun.com.