How spoiled Malibu became a Sanctuary City

By Ludy Astraquillo Ongkeko, Ph.D.

The beach city of Malibu — where Tom Hanks, Cher and other Hollywood luminaries have homes — recently became a Sanctuary City.

Malibu City Hall voted on March 14 to adopt the Sanctuary City status as a gesture of solidarity with undocumented immigrants, many of them Hispanics working in construction and posh residences.

The decision was met with mixed voices: Some welcomed the initiative, others balked, blaming undocumented aliens for crimes. The L.A. Times reports how some residents called the move a “thinly disguised rebuke of President Trump.”

Yet, people who know of Malibu are well acquainted with the outspoken, progressive, and famous people who live here.

Why Malibu?

This is a city proud of its surfing beaches, shopping malls, whale-watching and the movie stars who populate the community.

“Sanctuary City” is a term reserved for cities that have attempted to offer protections to foreigners who are in the U.S. illegally. Donald Trump, who is tightening the screws on immigration, has threatened to withhold federal funding from such municipalities who, he believes, coddle immigrants including those with criminal background.

The idea, as echoed by long-time residents of Malibu emanated from a theme inspired by

Long-time resident, actor Martin Sheen, is a staunch supporter. The father of Charlie Sheen was reported to have grabbed the lectern during a City Council meeting, as he urged Malibu to be more welcoming of immigrants.

Malibu, whose population is predominantly white, is one of the wealthiest cities of Los Angeles County.
Immigrants typically work as cooks and servers at upscale restaurants; gardeners, and cleaners at beachfront mansions; and nannies to children of affluent families. Hispanic landscapers are valued for keeping gardens looking lush all-season long.

The author of the ordinance, Councilwoman Laura Rosenthal, said the proposal was met with resistance in the beginning.

“When I reached out to some of the people at the schools and other people in the community, they told me people are scared,” she told the media. The fear is that being a Sanctuary City might encourage a swarm of undocumented people to come to Malibu. She said she received reports how some local schools have enrolled children of undocumented parents.

“I wanted to send a clear message that we are here for you,” Rosenthal went on to say.

The L.A. Times quotes long-time resident, Mikke Pierson, who said, “It’s hard to imagine a Malibu without the many immigrants who toil there. That’s why expressing support for people who are in the country illegally is so important.”

Malibu receives $50,000 in federal funding, which it could lose if the Trump administration
follows through its threat to defund sanctuary cities.

Support for Malibu as a Sanctuary City appears to be gaining ground.

“Our city depends on a Hispanic population to support our comfortable lifestyle. Do we not owe them what comfort and protections that are as possible times as challenging as today,” reports quoted a common sentiment.

There are an estimated 400 sanctuary cities all over the country, including New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco. In these places, services are accessible to all residents regardless of immigration status. They prefer to be called “welcoming cities.”

Copyright © 2017 The FilAm

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