Delano City Council

Delano City Council members, left to right: Council Member Grace Vallejo, Council Member Joe Alindajao, Mayor Joe E. Aguirre, Mayor Pro Tem Liz Morris and Council Member Bryan Osorio.

Mayor Joe Aguirre is not mad that his fellow city council members voted to make Delano a sanctuary city.

He is angry they are "lying" to those undocumented immigrants who now might believe that Delano can do more than what it is doing now: simple education.

"You are telling immigrants, 'You are safe,''' Aguirre said, "but you are giving them a false sense of security. That's wrong."

The Aug. 5 public meeting drew much fewer folks and was a little less contentious than the previous July 15 meeting, that saw it delayed to Monday's regular meeting. The small band of young people supporting the resolution also spoke again. live-streamed the resolution portion of the meeting on its Facebook Page, which has more than 11,500 followers. The majority of residents commenting while following along the meeting were against the resolution brought by council member Bryan Osorio. His resolution designates Delano as a sanctuary city to provide more for the city's not so hidden illegal immigrants. Exactly what would be provided for those residents is still up in the air, especially with President Donald Trump's administration pushing back with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

The city's police department has stood pat with California Senate Bill 54, which effectively makes California a “sanctuary state” by legalizing and standardizing statewide non-cooperation policies between California law enforcement agencies and federal immigration authorities.

That includes:

  • Prohibits state and local law enforcement from holding illegal aliens on the basis of federal immigration detainers, or transferring them into federal custody, unless they’ve been convicted in the last 15 years for one of a list of 31 crimes, or are a registered sex offender: if not, they may only be held with a warrant from a federal judge
  • Prohibits state and local law enforcement from asking anyone about their immigration status
  • Prohibits state and local law enforcement from sharing any information with federal immigration authorities that is not available to the general public.

Steve Kinsey, a Delano Kiwanis Club member and Community Alliance board member, also spoke, calling the resolution "toothless," and invited those calling for its passage to instead join him and other scores of Delano volunteers in "actually helping" those in need.

Osorio, Joe Alindajao, Liz Morris (who missed the previous meeting) and Grace Vallejo weren't so worried about possibly losing federal funding because of the "sanctuary city" status.

Instead, most of the discussion came from Alindajao, who called the resolution vague in what Osorio wanted the city to do above and beyond with the undocumented immigrants and merely "symbolic" of this "hotly contested issue."

But Osorio, who spent more time answering Alindajao's questions about editing the resolution down even further than commenting on the issue, did say, "Symbolism offers hope," and cut off the last three paragraphs of the resolution, that would have possibly put Delano in potential litigation.

The Delano City Council would pass the resolution 4-1 in favor. Mayor Aguirre voted no.

Aguirre again said it was too little, too late.

"We needed it two years ago," he said. "There are no other Kern County sanctuary cities."

"We are sending the wrong message, and need to educate our people," Aguirre added. "Especially, with this (Trump) administration out to get them."

Aguirre also noted that Osorio has shown a consistent pattern of "trying to cripple Delano's law enforcement agency."

It began with the license plate readers decision, which Delano police could have used to find and arrest serious criminals. Osorio maintained the information could be used to target undocumented immigrants.

Then $500,000 to be used for a special evidence storage locker was pulled from consideration, the mayor said.

Third was last month's attempt to take student resource officers (from Delano Police Department) from both Delano school districts. The high school district signed contracts with the city prior to that meeting.

"And now we could lose up to $1.5 million in federal community policing funding or future grants because of our sanctuary city status," Aguirre said. "And we use that money to protect all residents."

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