San Luis Obispo City Council passed a resolution in April that declared the city welcoming to everyone, regardless of immigration status and continued its current policy of not directly enforcing federal civil immigration laws.
However, this does not make San Luis Obispo a sanctuary city. According to a press release from the City of San Luis Obispo, this is an important distinction.
A sanctuary city is defined in the press release as “local jurisdictions that in some way limit their cooperation with federal immigration authorities, typically by refusing to honor detention requests from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (ICE).”
In January, President Donald Trump signed an executive order denying federal funding to sanctuary cities, but the resolution passed by the San Luis Obispo City Council does not exempt the city from federal funding.
San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon said this resolution is a way to show support and limit risk for immigrants.
“[The resolution] is a way of saying we are standing with all the people in this community regardless of their immigration status,” Harmon said. “We wanted to do the best we could to make it as clear as possible that we’re standing with those folks without creating any more risk for them.”
Despite this new resolution, undocumented residents may still be at risk.
“We can only control our own local jurisdiction and our own local police force,” Harmon said. “The federal government is still able to come into any community with immigration informants and do their own processes.”
San Luis Obispo Police Department Police Chief Deanna Cantrell said that their main purpose is to keep the public safe.
“With that in mind, we don’t ask people their status — whether they are considered potential victims, witnesses or suspects,” Cantrell said. “Of course, undocumented immigrants who commit serious and/or violent crimes should be subject to federal immigration laws, but our local police do not have the jurisdiction or legal authority to enforce immigration law.”