Pasadena seeks sanctuary

JULY 23, 2010


Judicial Watch, a non-profit public interest legal foundation, filed a complaint July 10 in Los Angeles County Superior Court alleging the Pasadena Police Department (PPD) has been non-responsive for over 30 days to its June 4 request for public records concerning the city’s sanctuary city policy.

The pursuit of Judicial Watch, stated in its July 22 press release, is further information regarding a quote by Pasadena’s interim police chief Christopher Vicino in the May 16 issue of the Pasadena Star News that the Police Department has a policy of “not asking anybody’s legal status until it is a matter of national security.”

The interim police chief’s statement was made with reference to a Pasadena City Council meeting held May 16 regarding whether the council should issue an official response to the state of Arizona’s new immigration law – SB 1070.  On May 17, the City Council in a 5-2 vote condemned Arizona’s controversial new immigration law and called upon Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

But the council fell short of authorizing penalties against Arizona as other cities have. Possibly this was due to the fact that college football teams from Arizona visit the famed Rose Bowl in Pasadena each year and conceivably one of these teams could appear in the Rose Bowl on New Years day.

The most outspoken opposition to the Arizona law at the May 16 Council meeting was from Pasadena Councilman Victor Gordo, a labor attorney and union activist, who was born in Mexico, and was elected to represent a highly gerrymandered mostly Hispanic district in Pasadena.

Judicial Watch issued the following statement concerning its complaint seeking further documentation of the City’s sanctuary city policy:

“If the Pasadena Police Department has nothing to hide then why keep these records secret? The citizens of Pasadena have a right to know if their own police department has enacted a dangerous policy that violates federal immigration law,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “It is beyond belief that the Obama Justice Department has decided to allow localities to violate federal immigration laws while suing a state such as Arizona that expressly upholds the law. This is the very definition of injustice.”

The entire Judicial Watch press release can be found online here.

A copy of the Judicial Watch lawsuit can be found online here.

On July 17, Pasadena swore in a new police chief, Phil Sanchez, a graduate of the FBI National Academy, who previously served as a deputy with the Santa Monica Police Department.

Neither Pasadena’s Mayor Bill Bogaard or its City Manager Michael Beck have made any statement about Sanchez’s view on the controversy surrounding the city’s stated sanctuary policy. Upon his installation, new Police Chief Sanchez made no statement indicating he was going to change the city’s policy.

The Pasadena City Council has a long reputation for issuing resolutions on controversial non-domestic issues. It has opposed U.S. foreign policy, the iraq War, and the Patriot Act – see here.

In September 2005, the city was involved with a media stunt that gained international attention. A lawsuit filed in federal court by Pasadena residents Patrick and Mary Briggs claimed that the city’s sign ordinance restricted their free speech to erect a six foot long anti-war banner on their home.  The banner read “Bush Lied, People Died.”  The city did not oppose the lawsuit and ended up relaxing its sign ordinance and subsidizing the anti-war free speech of the Briggs by paying for their legal bills.

But in 2007, the City Council refused to condemn civil rights violations by China, which had a float in the city’s New Year’s Day Rose Parade, despite protests from Chinese Americans.

The Pasadena City Council, Mayor, and public information officer could not be reached for comment on the Judicial Watch lawsuit because they reportedly were on a group vacation visiting the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and its sister city of Xicheng in China using their own funds.

The Pasadena City Council and the Mayor are allocated $200,000 each in annual salary and expenses to represent its seven council districts.

Taking a cue from the city of Pasadena’s meddling into the politics of other states and governments, China has reportedly condemned Arizona’s immigration law.

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