In a unanimous vote the Coachella City Council votes to proclaim sanctuary city status for Coachella.
“There are no words,” says Luz Gallegos, a community programs coordinator for TODEC Legal Center. “We are very happy and we’re very humbled and honored.”
Coachella City Hall was packed Wednesday night, attendees spilling into the hallway and out the door. Many community leaders and members stepped forward to speak their support of the resolution before City Council collected a vote. Those gathered heard from clergy members, educational leaders, lawyers and more. No one spoke against the resolution.
Coachella becomes the second city in the valley to officially become a sanctuary city. In may Cathedral City declared sanctuary city status.
"Sanctuary city ordinances are merely a jurisdictional blueprint that clarifies what the role of the federal government is and what the rights of the local government are," says Lynne O’Neill a legal research coordinator for Courageous Resistance.
Under the statutes of a sanctuary city, local police officers would not be allowed to ask or documentation from people they pull over. It also means the city will not cooperate with the federal government over immigration law. Coachella city funds nor resources will be used to enforce federal civil immigration law.
Sanctuary cities have been a big focus of the Trump Administration. The president signed an executive order in January that threatened to withhold federal funding from sanctuary cities, keeping with promises he made on the campaign trail.
The decision is personal in Coachella.
"There’s so much fear right now,” says Gallegos. “Even just going to any public space."
"I’m here to speak out and support the American dream for everyone,” says attorney Christy Holstege. “It’s incredibly important for our American values. I want to make sure everyone in our community can achieve that."
As soon as City Council voted in favor, cheers erupted in the room, out the door and outside. Many singing and chanting "Sí se pudo" (yes we could.) The cheering and singing didn’t stop as people spilled outside City Hall.
So what’s next for community leaders who gathered in Coachella Wednesday? They say their next stop is Indio.
"If this effort is going to go valley wide, I think it’s important other elected officials hear from myself and others about the benefits of providing for immigrants and providing a safe haven for them,” says Coachella Mayor Steven Hernandez.