Hayward Mayor Barbara Halliday, center, and
City Manager Kelly McAdoo, left, at an anti-
discrimination task force meeting last Monday.
Hayward stands to risk $33 million in current and future federal funding if it becomes a sanctuary city, several city officials reiterated Monday night during a city task force meeting on anti-discrimination. The moniker also provides no additional relief for residents fearful of the Trump administration’s stance toward immigration, they said. Hayward City Manager Kelly McAdoo said declaring itself a sanctuary city may give residents a “false sense of security.”
“We have to honest with people,” said interim Hayward Police Chief Mark Koller. “Local police departments don’t have the authority to stop the federal government from carrying out their laws any more than we can’t stop the I.R.S. from going after tax evaders." He added, “We don’t want to build up hopes.”
“You can call yourself a sanctuary city but it doesn’t change that we have no authority to stop immigration from coming into our city and doing their lawful and authorized duties,” said Koller.
In the months since President Trump’s election, there have been several instances in Hayward where federal immigration officials are rumored to have conducted raids. Koller said there have been none, but he understands the deep concerns. “The fear is real and we recognize it,” he said. The Hayward Police Department’s focus is on equally enforcing the law in Hayward," said Koller. “Our department’s first priority is to ensure the public safety in this community. Our role is not to be immigration officers.”
ALSO: Few Hayward elected officials support starting discussion on sanctuary cities.
A number of Hayward residents, though, resisted the city's presentation, saying the sanctuary city designation is a strong political message that needs to be sent to the Trump administration and a declaration of Hayward's values in support of immigrants and religious groups.
Trump's boiling rhetoric toward minorities may be even more pronounced in Hayward. According to the most recent U.S. Census in 2010, Latinos make up 40.7 percent of Hayward’s 140,000 residents, making it not only the largest demographic in the city, but the entire East Bay.
Monday’s night presentation was featured during the second meeting of the 22-person task force convened by the city in January to update its nearly 30-year-old anti-discrimination policy. The issue of Hayward becoming a sanctuary city was mentioned often during the initial meeting by its members and the public, necessitating a presentation this week.
Roughly two-thirds of Hayward’s possible exposure to the threat of losing federal funding by becoming a sanctuary city includes $20 million in future funding for its executive airport, a fact that makes it unique among East Bay cities, said McAdoo. Hayward also relies on a portion of federal money for its water treatment plant, she added. “It’s a pretty significant number,” she said, referring to the total amount of federal funds potentially on the line, coupled with Hayward’s take of property and sales taxes that are lower than some other wealthy East Bay cities.
McAdoo said the city’s federal lobbyist has been in daily contact with Hayward officials. “What we understood is that the federal government is on the lookout for news or cities that have made a public statement about being a sanctuary city,” said McAdoo.
However, the constitutionality of Trump’s executive order issued Jan. 25 that threatened sanctuary cities with the loss of federal dollars has been questioned by many. City attorneys is every East Bay city that has embraced the sanctuary city movement has offered legal opinions that downplay Trump’s threat.
Members of the public at Monday night’s meeting, though, clearly disagreed with the city’s stance toward sanctuary cities. “Budgets are statements of values," said Itoco Garcia, principal of Cherryland Elementary. “This is an issue of values in our community. Right now there’s a lot of rhetoric coming out of the federal government about our values and I think it’s critically important that this community responds.”
One speaker said the city's acquiescence toward ICE's authority sounds passive and does little to calm rising fears in the community, while another who described herself as a Hayward elementary school teacher, told the task force her students are writing letters to President Trump, asking, "Why do you hate us?" She added, "My babies are scared."
While referencing a map of sanctuary cities in Alameda County that was that night by Hayward city staff, resident Stephanie Spencer urged for Hayward to join the growing list. "I think there's strength in neighboring communities and the more of us that there are, then the harder it is for any of us to be singled out."
Austin Bruckner, a member of the South Alameda County Young Democratic Club and Hayward resident, called the city manager's presentation dishonest for omitting information such as the uncertainty of whether Hayward will actually receive any of the $33 million in federal grants for which it has applied, in addition, to failing to offer context for the funding within Hayward's entire fiscal budget.
Hayward Mayor Barbara Halliday and others on the city council have sought an even-handed approach to either side of the growing debate in the city. “We are all torn. There is not one of us who supports what the federal government is doing right now,” she said, also referring to members of the city council. “We are appalled as all of you are. But we have to grapple with the budget of this city, we have to provide the services, we know what the stakes are.”
Halliday and the majority of the council are believed to be opposed to bringing the sanctuary city issue up for council discussion. Four votes out of seven councilmembers are required to place an item on the agenda. As mayor, Halliday has the power to do so unilaterally.
Sanctuary city discussions in other East Bay cities have been almost been perfunctory while eventually receiving near unanimous support among elected officials. Even in Dublin where clear hostility toward the issue exists, the City Council, at the behest of five members of the public, placed the sanctuary city item on its agenda for discussion at a meeting last week. The Dublin City Council unanimously voted against moving the information-only item forward.