By A.J. Joven
CATHEDRAL CITY—On a hot and electric night May 24, the Cathedral City City Council voted 3-2 in favor of a resolution declaring the low desert community a sanctuary city.
The vote followed nearly four hours of public testimony in Council chambers filled beyond capacity as residents braved 100-degree heat and council members honored that endurance by allowing some 70 people to speak their mind on the issue.
A majority of the comments favored the resolution and, in many, community members shared stories of their own immigrant experience and how they found welcome in Cathedral City. Others expressed fear. All told, it was a spirited but civil debate.
The vote and positive resolution is the capstone of months of work by members of St. Louis Parish in Cathedral City, in partnership with Inland Congregations United for Change (ICUC) organizers. The parish’s effort was spearheaded by Father Luis Guido, Pastor, and Fabiola Alvarez, Director of Social Justice Ministry at St. Louis. As far back as February, Fr. Guido and Alvarez worked with city officials to form a resolution that would provide a sense of calm and security for the City’s immigrant population.
“Cathedral City became a Sanctuary City through the collaborative effort of many faithful Catholics, St. Louis Social Justice Committee, ICUC, and other nonprofit local organizations that were willing to embrace the daily hopes, joys, mercy of that community and work in light of the love God has for all His people,” commented Fr. Guido.
“This is the good news: to raise up our voices for the people, to go out to the peripheries, and to walk together with them. That is to encounter Christ.”
The resolution itself states that the City will not allocate local resources for immigration enforcement, holding that immigration enforcement is the purview of the federal government. It also restricts City personnel from requesting and keeping a person’s immigration status. A statement from Cathedral City on the resolution can be viewed at: http://www.cathedralcity.gov/government/sanctuary-city .
A.J. Joven is the Director of Advocacy and Justice for Immigrants for the Diocese of San Bernardino.