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Common Sense on Sanctuaries

February 09, 1986

The City of Los Angeles is no more or no less a sanctuary for the world's refugees than it was before the City Council on Friday rescinded the November resolution asserting the status of a "city of sanctuary," but at least the city has avoided a messy political campaign that could have invited unwelcome ethnic divisiveness.

After the revised council action, Councilman Ernani Bernardi abandoned his campaign to force an initiative that would have tested the sanctuary resolution in the November election. Councilman Michael Woo, author of the original resolution, has produced a constructive compromise that won 12 to 0 support for its key elements.

The council has again instructed its employes not to consider questions of immigrant or resident status when serving people in the city. That is important. Grave injustice would result if each police officer, each health inspector joined the Immigration Service's search for undocumented aliens. Furthermore, the council appealed for an end to the deportation of immigrants from El Salvador, supporting federal legislation that would postpone these deportations until they could safely return home.

In addition, a task force has been created to look at the impact of undocumented aliens on city services. The only opposition to the task force came from Richard Alatorre. His reservations are understandable. Any study of this problem must be balanced to recognize the contributions as well as the problems of this growing group of residents.

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