Offering support in theory only


Presumably National City City Councilman Albert Mendivil is sleeping better these days (how I don’t know, given the ramblings of the president of the United States in an increasingly divided country and an already troubled world) now that he has voted against officially calling National City a welcoming city to all people regardless of immigration status.

On Feb. 7 he admitted at the City Council meeting that in the days prior to voting on the resolution he had trouble sleeping, something he rarely experiences.  After consulting with religious leaders, friends, city officials and his god, the leader of a local prayer group found the peace of mind that led him to oppose a public declaration that offered comfort to undocumented immigrants, their friends, family and supporters — that the city of National City would not take into consideration immigration status when offering city services that included public safety.

Some of his reasons were not without qualified merit. One concern was that in proclaiming National City a welcoming city residents and visitors would succumb to the notion that it was a sanctuary city, a sense that as long as one was within the city’s boundaries one could not be deported from the United States.

He was right to emphasize that no city, regardless of its status as sanctuary, welcoming or nothing at all can prevent the federal government from deporting people from the country.

But where Mendivil fell short was when he asked in a manner that appeared to defend his position, “Why would we want to draw attention to ourselves?”  when National City is a welcoming city in spirit if not on paper.
The answer to anyone with or without a good night’s sleep is simple: that is what good leaders do.

For hundreds of years this country has welcomed immigrants. It has also benefitted and profited from the labor and exploitation of undocumented workers and flourished under the influence of people — mothers, fathers and children — who arrived here without the right paperwork.

While those who because of bigotry, prejudice or ignorance choose to portray undocumented immigrants as criminals who must be sent away, the reality is that most are just as law-abiding as any person who was born in this country or arrived here through proper channels. It is those people who are asking not for guarantees that they will not be thrown out of this country but instead that they will be treated with the dignity that is afforded everyone regardless of immigration status and afforded the due process that is promised by this country’s constitution.

Mendivil said he supports the concept and theory of protecting immigrants but his actions, along with those of mayor Ron Morrison and Councilman Jerry Cano who joined in his opposition to the symbolism of welcoming city status, indicate that his support is not enough to do it in writing.

But at least he can sleep now.

Offering support in theory only