Malibu Becomes A Sanctuary City

The discussion inside Malibu City Hall over whether to become a sanctuary city last week bore the usual hallmarks of the heated national debate over illegal immigration.

While some residents praised the proposal, others blamed those who are in the country illegally for crime and called the move a thinly disguised rebuke of President Trump.

But it being Malibu, there was a celebrity twist. The idea was inspired by one of the town’s many famous residents: actor Martin Sheen. In December, he grabbed the lectern during a City Council meeting and — as if conjuring his inner President Josiah Bartlet from “The West Wing” — urged the city to become a sanctuary city.

Like many sanctuary city resolutions, Malibu’s is largely symbolic. Backers said the move, which passed on a 3-2 council vote, is a chance for Malibu’s privileged to stand up for the city’s vulnerable population.

Malibu is about 92% white and one of L.A. County’s wealthiest cities. Everyone agrees the city has workers who are not authorized to be in the United States, and they tend to serve the food at upscale eateries, clean the beachside mansions, look after children and keep the landscaping looking lush.

“When I reached out to some of the people at the schools and other people in the community, they told me people are scared,” said Councilwoman Laura Rosenthal, who proposed the ordinance after hearing Sheen speak. “That’s people coming into Malibu who may be undocumented. I wanted to send a clear message that we are here for you.”

Only about 6% of Malibu is Latino, according to the 2010 census. Rosenthal said officials at the Boys & Girls Club told her there are nearly 80 children in the local schools who in the country illegally or whose parents are here illegally.

But residents say a good chunk of the service workforce is Latino. And at least some of those people are in the United States illegally. Rosenthal said it’s a well-known fact around town, one rarely talked about — even at last week’s council meeting.

“I think some people in Malibu have people working for them who are undocumented,” she said.

Lifelong Malibu resident Mikke Pierson, 57, a supporter of the resolution, said it’s hard to imagine a Malibu without the many immigrants who toil there. That is why expressing support for people who are in the country illegally is so important, he said.

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