Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Jake Lee, and I was born and raised in West Hollywood. I love my city with its rich history of rock and roll, classic architecture (what’s left of it), the ease of accessibility to city officials and its “small town in the midst of a big city” vibe. I’m the first-born American in my family of immigrants. My mother immigrated from Mexico in 1963 and my father from France around the same time. I am also the grandson of two Jewish Holocaust survivors.
In 2002, I chose to buy a home in West Hollywood and raise a child here. I chose West Hollywood because of its diversity as well as its commitment to public safety. In fact, after my daughter was born, I became the official Neighborhood Watch captain for the city’s largest single section of West Hollywood, which is Center City. I have offered my time and service to the city and its residents for the last nine years. I’ve established relationships with our great Sheriff’s Department, our mayor, our city council members and our public safety officials. I have organized numerous National Night Out block parties, have attended counter-terrorism task force briefings and have even been awarded and acknowledged for my efforts to help keep our neighborhood safe.
The issue that I and many of us in West Hollywood have is that our city officials believe that they have the right to speak on behalf of ALL of the residents of our city, and that is simply incorrect and in fact dangerous. By now, we all know and can safely assume the personal political leanings of all of our city council members, and it’s no surprise.
In case you missed it, about two weeks ago, the City of West Hollywood sent out an official Tweet stating: “We’d like to remind @realDonaldTrump and the new administration that West Hollywood is- and shall always be- a Sanctuary City. #weho
My burning questions are: Who is this a sanctuary for? Wasn’t the original intention of West Hollywood to be a sanctuary for the safety of the law-abiding LGBT community, their families, friends and anyone else who wishes to live, work and play in a diverse community?
Political grandstanding by our elected officials is not only wrong but tweeting a statement such as this sends a clear message to anyone here illegally who wishes to commit serious crimes that West Hollywood is the place to set up shop and that you don’t have to fear any consequences of deportation or federal charges being brought upon you if you are caught.
Many people are unaware that not only California but also L.A. County has major problems with human trafficking, many of the ring leaders being illegal aliens. In fact, law enforcement just did a major operation leading to the arrests of over 400 criminals involved in human trafficking rings. Is it the position of our city officials to put the burden of prosecuting and the eventual costs of incarceration on the California taxpayer rather than turning these cases over to the federal government where they can best handle these types of crimes?
On Feb. 24, 2015, L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell issued a press release titled “Human Trafficking- Statement of Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell during Senate Committee on the Judiciary Hearing.” The press release can be found here in its entirety http://shq.lasdnews.net/pages/PageDetail.aspx?id=2687. In a nutshell, it discusses the problems with human sex trafficking in L.A. County and ways to work with federal officials in cracking down on these crime syndicates. It supports the approach in pending legislation to strengthen the federal prosecution of those engaged in commercial sexual exploitation of children. It also mentions working jointly with federal task forces as well as requesting for additional federal funding to help with this battle.
Fast forward to Jan. 25, 2017, where West Hollywood Mayor Lauren Meister stated: “In response to the outcome of the presidential election, an item was brought to council to reaffirm the city’s core values and direct staff to prepare responses to anticipated action by the new presidential administration. This item, which garnered unanimous support among council, re-affirms our city’s policy as a sanctuary city and specifically gives direction to the Sheriff Department to NOT provide assistance to federal agencies that are attempting to harass, arrest or deport undocumented workers or immigrants.”
Of course, my question is: “Is it the position of the city to order our local law enforcement to not cooperate with federal law enforcement even if a violent criminal or human trafficker is found to be an undocumented worker or immigrant?”
Interestingly enough, Sheriff McDonnell, whose department provides public safety services to West Hollywood, issued a statement supporting the city’s statement — a statement that drastically negates, refutes and contradicts his statement just two years earlier: “The executive order does not change the mission of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Our priority continues to protect the public. Our department policy clearly states that our deputies do not ask for one’s immigration status. Immigration enforcement remains a federal responsibility.”
One does not need to “ask” for one’s immigration status anymore after the California legislature allowed illegal immigrants to have driver’s licenses. It clearly says on the license itself “federal limits apply.” This means that the driver’s license issued is only for the purpose of driving and not for use with employment. This information/identification now eliminates the need for a sheriff’s deputy to ask for immigration status.
Is it the position of the Sheriff’s Department to not cooperate with federal officials should a violent criminal be arrested and booked in our city, even when the alleged criminal’s immigration status is known just by looking at his or her driver’s license?
By the city officially establishing the status of sanctuary city, it puts federal funding for all sorts of programs in jeopardy, including those needed to help battle the most serious of serious crimes.
It is and continues to remain my position and the positions of thousands more like me who live, work and play in the City of West Hollywood that politics does not supersede public safety. Ever! I will continue to fight and to be the voice for the safety of all residents in West Hollywood who also feel that the city council members and mayor do not have their best interests in mind when it comes to public safety.