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Survey shows support for ‘sanctuary city’ designations

WESTCHESTER — More than two-thirds of Los Angeles County residents support the idea of making their hometown a “sanctuary city,” according to a poll released April 17 by Loyola Marymount University.

“With such a high level of support for sanctuary cities, [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] would be more difficult. In our survey people are sending a clear message that ICE is not welcome here,” said Fernando Guerra, professor of political science and director of the study.

The poll found that 40 percent of those surveyed said they “strongly support” a sanctuary city where they live, with 28 percent saying they “somewhat support” the idea. Fifteen percent said they “somewhat oppose” their city being a sanctuary city, and 17 percent “strongly oppose” the idea.

The sanctuary city question was one of dozens asked by the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles as part of its Forecast LA conference, which was held April 19.

Although there is no official legal definition of a sanctuary city, many cities in California have voted to declare themselves one. The city of Los Angeles has declined to take the title even though its practice of limiting its cooperation with the federal government on deportations fits the typical definition.

Culver City Mayor Jim Clarke issued a statement April 14 to clarify his city’s position on immigration enforcement.

“Culver City is a city of kindness and our City Council has affirmed this with the adoption of our sanctuary city resolution,” Clarke said. The resolution was adopted last March.

He was responding to media reports about a section of the city’s Police Department manual that addresses immigration enforcement and appeared to be inconsistent with the City Council’s policy. Clarke said Police Chief Scott Bixby had deleted Policy 415 from the Police Department manual

“This should address any concerns in our community about the role the Culver City Police Department plays in enforcing federal immigration law. The simple answer is: none,” Clarke said.

The issue of sanctuary cities has gained prominence in the national discussion since President Donald Trump has threatened to cut federal funding to cities that do not assist federal efforts regarding undocumented residents.

Eighty-four percent of Latinos said they strongly or somewhat supported the idea of sanctuary cities, compared to 67 percent of African-Americans, 57 percent of Asian-Americans and 51 percent of whites.

“We found as the generations get younger, the support increases,” StudyLA Associate Director Brianne Gilbert said. “While all generations were supportive of their city being a sanctuary city, millennials were the most supportive, at 74 percent.”

The survey was conducted by telephone and online in January and February, among 1,200 Los Angeles city residents and 1,200 residents in the rest of the county. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.