By Renee Buckley
Front Page Editor
Coachella is now a sanctuary city. On Aug. 23, the city council voted unanimously to become the second city in the Coachella Valley to offer protection to immigrants following Cathedral City’s decision earlier this year.
This recent decision follows Donald Trump’s campaign claim during the 2016 election that he will punish all sanctuary cities. Coachella is a city that does not follow immigration law 1373 requiring state and local government to relay immigration information to the federal government.
Voting to become a sanctuary city means that Coachella has risked its federal funding of both housing and law enforcement, which is to be cut under the Trump administration as a penalty. The city is not upset about the restrictions as long as transportation funding is not cut. The city has just received a $20 million grant and needs much more money to continue their numerous projects. Transportation funding being cut has not yet been discussed. The city who is already following all sanctuary city guidelines, is happy to make it official.
Resident and founding member of the Coachella Valley Housing Coalition, Sylvia Montenegro, is not so sure that the federal funding for housing being cut is such a good idea. When questioned about it she stated, “We would be severely impacted to be sure. Yes, this is because all affordable housing projects produced by the Coachella Valley Housing Coalition are backed by ‘Local Matching Funds’. These are housing projects whose funding ventures into the tens of millions in terms the money that is spent on them and local government backs every dollar that federal government allots to us.” The most overlooked detail is that the housing projects, do not allow anyone who is not a legal citizen to be given residence, so by cutting off funding, it does not affect anyone here illegally, according to Montenegro.
With uncertainty in the city, one thing the city officials know for sure is that they believe making the city a sanctuary city will benefit students in the community. With the White House trying to repeal DACA, Differed Action for Childhood Arrivals, which helps pay for illegal immigrants schooling to ensure education as a right and not just a privilege, having more and more cities in the valley fighting for sanctuary status. Attesting to the fact that the attempted repeal of DACA and deportation threats will not rock this valley.
Hoping to follow in Coachella’s footsteps, Indio City Council held a meeting on Sept. 6 for citizens to voice their opinion on sanctuary status. Indio city officials are not budging on their more conservative concepts, but with the help of the community (you do not have to live in the city to voice your opinion) and Indio residents the more individuals that show up and voice concerns, the city might vote yes on becoming a sanctuary city.
California residents in San Francisco, protesting for sanctuary city status.