San Diego City Council votes to join lawsuit against Trump’s travel banTop Highlights, Around the City, Latest Issue Thursday, February 16th, 2017
The San Diego City Council voted 8-1 Tuesday to join the lawsuit filed by the state of Washington against President Donald Trump in challenging his executive order that bans non-citizens from seven countries from entering the U.S.
The Council heard from almost 50 speakers who urged them to join the litigation as amicus curiae, which literally means “friend of the court.” Speakers said the travel ban affects San Diego as it is the largest U.S. city so close to the Mexican border.
The 8-1 vote was held in closed session, with Seventh District Councilmember Scott Sherman voting no. Sherman’s aide said he voted no because the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals have already put a halt to Trump’s order, which stopped the chaos at U.S. airports where people with green cards and permanent legal residents were prevented from entering the country.
Amicus curiae is defined as a party who assists a court by offering information on a case and is interested in its outcome, but is not an original plaintiff or party in the case.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer did not appear before the City Council, but published accounts said he favored the city joining the state of Washington’s lawsuit against Trump’s executive order, which also suspended the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.
Ninth District Councilmember Georgette Gomez thanked all the people who showed up to speak in the 90-minute hearing, but none of the councilmembers or City Attorney Mara Elliott discussed the merits of the issue in open session.
In a statement afterwards, Third District Councilmember Chris Ward said the Council “took a bold vote to join the amicus brief challenging the Presidential Executive Order.”
“I’m proud that the City Council has said loud and clear that we will continue to fight for you,” said Ward. “Our constituents are right to expect strong action from elected leaders and today I am reminded that together we can accomplish important things.”
“Many immigrants are members of the LGBT community,” said Rebekah Hook-Held, representing The LGBT Center in Hillcrest. “We must stand up for our friends, our neighbors, our loved ones.”
“This executive order paints a target on every military family,” said David Warmoth, the ex-president of San Diego Democrats for Equality. He added it “gives out the idea we don’t care for Muslims. This is not what America is about.”
John Mattes, representing the San Diego Progressive Democrat Club, said this was “a moral issue, an American issue.” He added: “We are too great a country to turn our backs to refugees.”
Mark Arabo, a Chaldean-American who is from Iraq, told the Council he was “a child of an immigrant who was a refugee.” He said Trump’s order stopping travel from seven mostly Muslim countries “is against our values – what bonds us is our values.”
“When the administration targets Muslims, when it targets immigrants, when it targets refugees, make no mistake that is targeting our people,” said Eva Posner.
Three speakers opposed the city filing as amicus curiae, and were booed, so Council President Myrtle Cole told the energetic crowd several times to stop heckling, booing or applauding speakers.
“Donald Trump won the election,” said Hud Collins, saying Trump had the authority to issue the executive order.
“I believe the Council should focus on local problems, not foreign policy,” said Roger Ogden. “What you’re doing now will have no positive impact at all, but we will draw the negative consequences from your decision … as the city has a reputation as an anti-Trump city.”
“It’s such a strange time for hatred and racism to be accepted now,” said Curt Hensley, representing the Main Street Alliance. “Immigrants aren’t coming here to harm us.”
“We’re a city of immigrants,” said a woman holding a baby. “As a city and a nation, we’re better than this.”
“We must be of one voice in saying that this executive order harms our community, undermines its values, and threatens our shared future,” said a man who identified himself as Mr. Hasan.
Genevieve Suzuki, who represents the San Diego Japanese American Citizens League, told the Council the executive order reminds some of the 1940s when Japanese Americans were held in internment camps following Pearl Harbor.
“Stand on the right side of history,” said a woman wearing a type of burka. “We must not be silent. We must stand tall.”
City Clerk Liz Maland closed the hearing at noon and noted that 19 more speakers wished to speak, but they had run out of time as the closed session was about to start.
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