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Watsonville
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November 26, 2022

Sanctuary city status to be updated

WATSONVILLE — City leaders will take a first look at an ordinance that aims to strengthen Watsonville’s sanctuary city status on Tuesday.

In January, the Watsonville City Council reaffirmed a 2007 resolution that declared Watsonville as a sanctuary city. City Manager Charles Montoya said Tuesday’s discussion will center around an updated document that sets an ordinance, enacting specific procedures named in the 2007 resolution.

Among other things, the ordinance states that no city resources should be used to apprehend a person based solely on their immigration status.

It also directs city officials to not assist in enforcing federal immigration law, as well as decline to notify federal authorities about the release of any person detained for immigration purposes.

“Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in private homes, churches, schools and service agencies are inhumane, discriminatory and may violate constitutional protections,” the ordinance reads.

However, the ordinance does not prevent city employees from “lawfully discharging his or her duties in compliance with and in response to a lawfully issued judicial warrant or subpoena.”

Sanctuary cities across the nation are facing scrutiny from the Trump administration. On March 27, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions warned that any state, city or county declaring itself a “sanctuary” for undocumented immigrants risks losing federal funding.

Montoya has said that it is too early to say what it may entail for Watsonville but said in January that the city has about $850,000 in federal grants.

Also during Tuesday’s meeting, the council will consider a 45-day moratorium on new medical centers in shopping centers.

According to a report by City Attorney Alan Smith, advancements in medical care technology have allowed health care providers to deliver treatment in smaller scale medical offices. These providers are attracted to spaces in shopping centers due to available parking, the report stated.

However, Smith warned in his report that the loss of sales tax revenue by converting retail spaces to medical offices could be a significant detriment to the city’s general fund. The moratorium would allow city staff to study the issue.

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The Watsonville City Council will meet Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, 275 Main St., fourth floor. The agenda can be found at tinyurl.com/lfnlolz.

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