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Lincoln City Council takes up immigration issue

Panel opposes SB 54
By: Steve Archer, Reporter
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Faced with a 20-plus item agenda Tuesday night, the Lincoln City Council spent most of its time discussing immigration issues – specifically state legislation designed to prevent local law enforcement from assisting in deportations.

All five councilmen said they would support a letter opposing Senate Bill 54 (The California Values Act ) by Senate President pro tem Kevin DeLeon (D-Los Angeles), which would prevent the use of state and local resources to help federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in deportation actions.

Councilman Stan Nader had asked City Attorney Mona Ebrahimi to write a letter to the State Senate opposing the bill. The council asked Ebrahimi to write another draft of the letter.

“It’s important to remember our country was founded on the rule of law,” Nader said Tuesday night. “We’re not deputizing the police force to round up people; this is about bringing people to justice and keeping our nation safe.

“We are this close to anarchy in this country,” Nader added. “We cannot thumb our nose at the rule of law. We need to speak up. In silence is when things happen to us.”

The council’s opposition to Senate Bill 54 drew a number of Lincoln residents to the public comment podium.

Lincoln resident Al Witten, president of the Lincoln Hills Democratic Club, said he supports the legislation and the designation of California as a sanctuary state.

“This letter of opposition could have a large impact on citizens of Lincoln, not criminals,” Witten said. “Many of the people that could be affected by that letter have raised families in Lincoln.”

Witten added financial and commercial losses might be felt by the farming and ranching community as well as hospitality and home services businesses if the letter is sent.

“Consider what your voting constituents’ desires might be,” Witten said. “I am against the city of Lincoln sending this letter. It does not represent me.”

Lincoln resident Larry Whitaker disagreed with Witten.

“I am 100 percent in support of issuing this letter,” Whitaker said. “California is not an independent country.”

Councilman Gabriel Hydrick said he is fluent in Spanish and has worked with Spanish-speaking people for the last decade.

“Just this week, I said goodbye to a family I’ve known for eight years. I helped them find employment and social assistance,” Hydrick said. “The lady, a citizen, married an illegal immigrant and had three children. He left a month ago and the wife and kids left yesterday.”

“He raised his family right but our system is so broke that it can’t let good people achieve citizenship,” Hydrick added. “Nevertheless, it is an international crime to cross borders illegally.”

Councilman Paul Joiner said the council is a non-partisan body, adding “I wish we weren’t in a position to have to discuss this.”

Mayor Peter Gilbert said, as a public servant of more than 40 years, he swore an oath to uphold the state and federal Constitutions.

“I don’t think we have a choice, as elected officials,” Gilbert said. “Many times, I have had to make decisions outside of my personal feelings. Over the years, I’ve voted for things distasteful to me.”