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February 8, 2023

From the editor's desk, Nov. 28: Judge’s decision a win for Watsonville

By ERIK CHALHOUB, Managing Editor

Watsonville scored a big win at the hands of a federal judge last week.

On Nov. 20, U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick permanently blocked an order by President Donald Trump to withhold funding from “sanctuary cities,” which Watsonville declared itself in 2007 and reaffirmed in April.

The decision comes less than a week after Watsonville received a letter signed by Acting U.S. Assistant Attorney General Alan Hanson, questioning not only its sanctuary city policy, but its eligibility for a federal grant to fund its police department.

The letter cites U.S. Code section 1373, which states that government agencies cannot prohibit public officials from sharing residents’ citizenship and immigration status with the U.S. Customs and Immigration and Naturalization Service. The law also says that jurisdictions cannot impede federal authorities in immigration issues.

But nothing in Watsonville’s ordinance directs city officials to block federal agents from enforcing immigration law, only that city resources cannot be used to assist. The ordinance also includes a number of exceptions, such as when the case in question is a threat to public health and safety.

The feds can still “do their job” in Watsonville. Just don’t expect cooperation from the city.

It’s like that bully in middle school, who threatens to take your lunch money when you refuse to give up your seat in the cafeteria. Sure, there are plenty of other seats in the room where he could sit and have lunch, but the bully, as part of his M.O., has to attempt to show power over you.

The Trump administration has appealed Orrick’s decision to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

•••

On Friday we turn our calendars to the last month of the year, and with the start of December comes the official beginning of the holiday season in Watsonville.

Things kick off Friday with the 40th annual Heritage Holiday Craft & Gift Fair at the fairgrounds, an event that runs through Sunday. Saturday is the Holiday Factory Sale in Watsonville, where 10 local businesses will offer discounts on their wares.

Sunday is the Watsonville Multicultural Celebration and tree lighting event in the plaza, featuring food, music and activities from a variety of cultures.

There are numerous other holiday events happening not only in the Pajaro Valley, but across the county as well. It will be a busy, but cheery, weekend, that’s for sure.

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