sanctuary city status

Post image for Jen Mazzon advocates for sanctuary city status for Menlo Park

Update: The actions taken by the Menlo Park City Council on April 18 are chronicled in this article in the Almanac.

For Jen Mazzon, who’s lived in Menlo Park most of her life, it’s all about local families. That’s the reason she’s created a website featuring a petition to support the city of Menlo Park passing a sanctuary city ordinance, which the City Council will vote on at its April 18th meeting.

“I strongly encourage people to email/call the city council to share their perspectives on the topic, and to attend Tuesday’s city council meeting if they can,” Jen says. “I think the likelihood of the ordinance passing will increase if supporters make a strong showing at the meeting.”

Except for a local measure a few years back,  she’s rarely involved herself in politics in the past. ,Jen says she was prompted to take action now for a number of reasons. “In my extended family, several people are first generation immigrants,” she says. “Also, I know people in Menlo Park whose families are a mix of citizens and undocumented. That’s incredibly stressful. Separating families is not healthy for our community.”

On the website, Jen explains that a sanctuary city is one that has “passed a city ordinance so that city employees don’t enforce federal immigration laws either at all or in specific situations. The specific ordinances vary. For example, one might tell police staff only to check citizenship status in case of felony conviction and public school staff not to check citizenship status of students.”

In January, Jen went to a community meeting to listen to a woman speak in support of sanctuary cities. As her children’s sole caregiver, the woman worried about what would happen to her children if she was deported.

“Even if that doesn’t happen, she, along with a group of people, are now scared and marginalized,” Jen says. “They’re no longer going to be active participants in their community because they’re afraid of being deported.”

At its March 14 meeting, the Menlo Park City Council, “in a unanimous bi-partisan vote,” agreed to sign onto the Amicus Curiae brief in support of Santa Clara County, in Santa Clara County v. Trump, seeking an injunction against the Federal government to prevent withholding of federal funds from so-called “Sanctuary Jurisdictions.” At stake is up to $1.7 billion dollars, close to 1/4 to 1/3 of Santa Clara County’s budget for infrastructure, public health, and social services, according to Council member Ray Mueller.

On Friday, April 14, 207, a federal judge heard arguments in the first lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s executive order to withhold funding from communities that limit cooperation with immigration authorities.  U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick heard the case on San Francisco’s request for a court order blocking the Trump administration from cutting off funds to any of the nation’s so-called sanctuary cities. After the hearing, Orrick said he’d issue a ruling “as soon as I can.”

If the Menlo Park City Council votes to enact the sanctuary city ordinance, which is modeled on San Francisco’s ordinance, Jen believes the next step is to take the measure to San Mateo County.

Note: On the website, there are resources for immigrants as well as for people interested in organizing materials to take to city councils in support of local immigrant communities.

Photo by Irene Searles