Photo courtesy of sandiego.gov
Councilmember Scott Sherman
As this issue went to press, most of the CityBeat staff was glued to their computers watching the live stream of the City Council hearing to decide whether or not to file an amicus brief in support of the state of Washington’s lawsuit against President Trump’s Muslim ban. Cities like Chicago have already jumped on board with the lawsuit, which was upheld last week by the Federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
We were truly touched by the outpouring of emotion we saw from our fellow San Diegans at the meeting. While there were a few supporters of the ban in attendance, the vast majority of the dozens of speakers who addressed the council were there to encourage our local representatives to stand up against the Trump administration.
“It betrays our values as a nation of immigrants,” said Imam Taha Hassane of the Islamic Center of San Diego before naming off the vast list of supporters and organizations that had co-signed his letter to the council. They included the local chapter of the ACLU, Alliance San Diego, the Climate Action Campaign, the Environmental Health Coalition, Jewish Family Services, the New Americans Museum and more.
Council President Myrtle Cole had to repeatedly remind the crowd not to clap for the speakers, who represented nearly every race, ethnicity and age group. At one point, Cole suggested that the speakers wouldn’t like what she’d do if they didn’t settle down.
“These are families just like the ones you make promises to every year,” said Eva Posner, a supporter of the brief. “It is targeting our people. It is targeting San Diegans… It tears at the fabric of the First Amendment and our communities… Please keep San Diego a bright spot in an otherwise unpredictable map.”
One after another, families, groups and individuals came up to support the filing of the amicus brief. Tears were shed and strong words were exchanged, and it may have made a difference.
In the end, the council voted 8-1 (with Scott Sherman the lone dissent) to support Washington’s lawsuit. Sherman’s no vote was particularly upsetting considering he was absent for much of the public testimony. Mark Kersey and Lorie Zapf were also absent for a portion of the testimony, but both did come back to listen attentively.
And sure, we were a little disappointed to see supporters of the brief hoot and shout-down the speakers who supported the Muslim ban, but in the end, we’re proud of the local progressive community for showing up and standing up. And kudos to the council itself for joining other sanctuary cities in proudly defying what is clearly a racist and xenophobic executive order. Who says politicians can’t agree?
Who knows if any of the councilmembers were swayed by the hours of public testimony, but it may have been just enough to turn the other three Republicans on the council. We sincerely hope that Mayor Faulconer will also choose to support the brief and present San Diego as united against any kind of immigration ban.
Editor's note: After this article went to press, we were very pleased to learn that Mayor Faulconer supports joining the lawsuit.
“Americans deserve an immigration policy that keeps us safe without needlessly separating families and shutting our doors on innocent people seeking the American Dream," said the mayor in a statement. "Legal immigration contributes greatly to San Diego's economy and culture, and our region has taken in more refugees than any other in California. This executive order has a direct effect on San Diegans, and I believe it is appropriate in this case for our city to weigh in.”