Garden Grove

Split council OK’s “harmony” resolution

THE GARDEN GROVE City Council on Tuesday approved a resolution backing a police policy of not asking suspects for proof of legal status.

THE GARDEN GROVE City Council on Tuesday approved a resolution backing a police policy of not asking suspects for proof of legal status.

By Jim Tortolano

A divided Garden Grove City Council on Tuesday night approved a “harmony” resolution affirming the city’s policy of not working with federal immigration officials to identify illegal aliens for possible deportation.

Mayor Steve Jones cast the deciding vote as the council split 4-3 in favor of a motion by Councilwoman Kim Nguyen to approve the resolution. In favor were Jones and council members Kim Nguyen, Thu-Ha Nguyen and Phat Bui. Opposed were council members Kris Beard, John O’Neill and Stephanie Klopfenstein.

GG-Logo_lgBefore the final vote, the council heard from 18 people who spoke on the issue during the oral communications segment of the meeting that lasted for nearly 90 minutes.

Fifteen of the speakers were in favor of the resolution, and three opposed. Among those addressing the council were two former city council candidates. George Brietigam said the resolution “borders on the racist because it surmises that immigrants are ignorant,” referring to the Garden Grove Police Department’s policy of not asking people it interacts with for proof of immigration status.

“We’re in the law enforcement business, not the immigration business,” said Police Chief Todd Elgin.

Demian Garcia-Monroy told the council what he characterized as a secret. “I myself am an immigrant,” he said. “My father brought us here from Mexico because he was receiving death threats. We came here undocumented.” He later got his citizenship through military service but urged the council to consider the plight of people who felt forced to cross the border.

The resolution had been originally introduced on Nov. 22 by then-Mayor Bao Nguyen, who was in the audience Tuesday night but didn’t speak. It denounced “any hateful rhetoric targeted against any person, group or community seeking to disrupt, divide, physically threaten or menacingly discriminate against any of them,” and went on to put the city council on record of a police policy of “not requiring officers to check, request and/or verbally obtain proof of legal status in the execution of their duties, unless a suspect’s legal status is directly related to the incident leading to law enforcement intervention.”

Several council members found the resolution to be redundant, inasmuch as it restated existing policy. But Jones, in supporting it, said “I agree this is a non-issue. But I don’t think it hurts anything.”

 

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