Anaheim “Welcoming City” Recommendations Place Symbolism Over Solid Policy


Earlier this month, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB54 into law making California a “sanctuary state.” 

The new law takes effect in January and it limits who state and local law enforcement agencies can hold, question and transfer at the request of federal immigration authorities.  Of course, the Trump administration’s Justice Department went nuts over this but the law is seen as a means to provide a stronger means by majority Democrats in the California Legislature to provide greater protections to the estimated 2.3 million undocumented immigrants who live here.

From the LA Times:  Brown took the unusual step of writing a signing message in support of SB 54. He called the legislation a balanced measure that would allow police and sheriff’s agencies to continue targeting dangerous criminals, while protecting hardworking families without legal residency in the country.

“In enshrining these new protections, it is important to note what the bill does not do,” Brown wrote. “This bill does not prevent or prohibit Immigration and Customs Enforcement or the Department of Homeland Security from doing their own work in any way.”

The new law also let officials in Anaheim who serve on a mayor’s task force to make Anaheim a welcoming city off the hook and avoid the terms “Sanctuary City” when applied to Anaheim.  Tonight, the city council will review a resolution that’s a far cry from the fiery rhetoric of the last election cycle of candidates promising Sanctuary City status for OC’s largest city with a large Latino immigrant population with a watered down list of recommendations and ideas which is city is largely already doing.  In short, the recommendations tonight legitimize every criticism of this program echoed in a Voice of OC story this past January.

From that story: “I think a big, bold loud statement needs to be made to dampen the anti-immigrant rhetoric that is alive in Orange County, and Anaheim in particular,” said Shakeel Syed, executive director of Orange County Communities Organizing for Responsible Development (OCCORD), a grassroots advocacy group based in Anaheim.

Clearly, the recommendations being offered don’t measure up.

Tait is on record against the idea of Sanctuary Cities and voted against a resolution by then Council member Jordan Brandman which called for “an end to deportations and the legal protection of undocumented immigrants without serious criminal histories.”

Tait told the LA Times in 2014:  “To ask a president to ignore a law, to ignore an oath that he took, I don’t think it’s good for a mayor to do that,” Mayor Tom Tait said.

Brandman’s resolution was similar to one adopted in December 2013 in Los Angeles. 

We’ll also note that attempts to force the city council into an up or down vote on Sanctuary Cities by Council member Lucille Kring, laying a political trap for the council majority, have been repeatedly quashed.

This entire Mayoral Welcoming City Task Force was designed to attempt to deliver on the fall’s campaign promises of Dr. Jose Moreno while not offending conservative Republican Mayor Tom Tait who has a majority of council members which lacks the mandate to actually change anything here.  Here’s a list of recommendations the committee spent eight months on:

The following are staff initiated ideas or recommendations that city departments could continue to work on or implement as part of this new initiative.

  • Create a new resident “Welcome Kit” that provides basic introductory information about Anaheim and ways in which residents can find resources and sign up for critical city services;  
  • Work with community partners and stakeholders on providing citizenship & resource fairs in city facilities throughout the year;  
  • Provide ESL naturalization courses in coordination with the North Orange County School of Continuing Education (publicized in the Anaheim Community Services Department magazine and the Anaheim magazine);  
  • Work in conjunction with stakeholder groups and other nonprofits on the development of a survey in order to assess the needs of new residents and to gain feedback on ways in which the City of Anaheim can better serve our new residents;
  • Join other community stakeholders in creating a citywide multicultural event celebrating the city’s diversity;
  • Creation of a Neighborhood Ambassadors Program to develop community leadership through the existing Neighborhood Academy. Neighborhood Ambassadors could be utilized to welcome new residents into our neighborhoods as well as invite new residents to participate in the Neighborhood Academy;
  • Update the “My Anaheim” app and the “Anaheim Alert” notification system to be available in multiple languages;
  • Creation of a new online city resource portal that can be tailored towards new residents;
  • Develop videos that run on the city’s TV channel explaining key information about our programs and services in multiple languages;
  • Create a new page on the city’s website dedicated to detailing Anaheim’s demographic information;
  • Showcase films/performances that are culturally relevant at the Pearson Park Amphitheater Nights;
  • Provide professional development courses to city employees on cultural competency and opportunities for city employees to learn another language;
  • Create a new program within the Clerk’s Office introducing new residents to their city government and the democratic process to ensure they have access to all parts of government;
  • Consider sending a proposal to the County Board of Supervisors requesting them to consider a county-wide initiative, modeled after the Welcoming America initiative;
  • Partner with the school districts to supplement their efforts on providing a welcoming environment to new residents;
  • Provide workshops on starting a business in Anaheim in coordination with local business groups;
  • Develop a task force within the police department/code enforcement that investigates fraudulent services and scams targeting immigrant/refugee communities;
  • Create pathways for immigrants/refugees to take courses in fields that fall under the Workforce Development department;
  • Encourage local business groups and schools to develop and tailor courses around entrepreneurship and small businesses, as well as providing mentoring to “young” entrepreneurs.

Not exactly a bastion of innovation here.  But then again, the Tait Majority has little to show for their time in power with the exception of  giving Tait’s assistant a full time job with a huge raise and placing the term “interim” on the city manager, city clerk and city attorney.  No leadership. 

Besides creating the welcoming kit, most of these ideas have been in place for years and don’t really address protections for the city’s immigrant Latino community threatened by the harsh policies of the Trump administration.  These ideas are largely symbolic, lack budget commitment or program management features, play off previously passed policy initiatives and seem more designed so committee members can reach over their left shoulder with their right hands to pat themselves on the back all while not declaring Anaheim a “sanctuary city” as Santa Ana has, as Los Angeles has, as San Francisco has.. all to please a mayor for his endorsements in the last election?

And what’s missing is the elephant in the room – DACA.  The second idea listed could be related to DACA, but it’s not new and has been underway in communities throughout Orange County for some time including Anaheim.  Not a lot here for Dreamers, I’m afraid.

So after 8 months of work, not exactly a lot to show for it other than a homogenized version of “Welcoming City” for which is a subset of “A City of Kindness?” 

Thank goodness that candidates running in 2018 have SB54 to hang their hats on when addressing immigrant voters.  Because the local results of their work and recommendations offered here are purely symbolic. and frankly, empty.


  3 comments for “Anaheim “Welcoming City” Recommendations Place Symbolism Over Solid Policy

  1. Daniel Lamb
    October 17, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    The Honorable Jose Moreno’s career, and perhaps his liberty, is tied to the intentions of Mayor Tom Tait. At times, I wonder what encouraged Mayor Tait to play nice with Anaheim progressives. Based on personal experience and his history, I highly doubt it can be explained by any genuinely held political beliefs. Perhaps he sees a financial incentive in the alliance, or perhaps he is acting in very bad faith so as to locate and bury potential Anaheim progressive leaders, to say nothing of homosexuals.

    I can only say the following as a matter of conviction: Mayor Tait, and/or his backers, are reactionary to their core, they disdain liberal values, and they are in cahoots, despite thinly veiled appearances, with Anaheim PD and the DA’s Office. I just wonder to what extent Moreno is an independent entity. I mean, I could be a Chicano Studies professor, that does not make me a progressive, nor does it rebute an accusation that I’m the stooge of a fascist criminal.

    • Daniel Lamb
      October 17, 2017 at 4:23 pm

      And I would just like to point out who has always been a loyal backer of Mayor Tait: father of the current mayoral candidate Ashleigh Aiken (sp?), the mega doner Wylie Aitken. Mr. Aitken went so far as to speak in Mayor Tait’s favor during public comments at a council meeting. They share a common agenda, just ask Voice of OC.

    • Daniel Lamb
      October 17, 2017 at 5:40 pm

      As I, as well as others know very well, Lorri Galloway also has connections to Mayor Tait. I just have faith that Lorri is ultimately a good person.

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