In the face of risking federal funding and the mayor's intent to delay the discussion to a later meeting, the Willits City Council narrowly approved a resolution Wednesday which declares the city's support for local immigrants.
The 3-2 decision came after a lengthy debate over the wording of the sixth paragraph in the document, which declares the Willits Police Department will continue to not enforce federal immigration laws except for matters of violent crime and officer safety.
This issue nearly delayed the meeting to a later time as City Attorney Jim Lance and Mayor Gerry Gonzalez felt the original wording may go against President Donald Trump's executive order issued in January that would take away federal funding from sanctuary cities. Lance suggested the council consider the removal of the paragraph entirely.
The city attorney found support from Mayor Gerry Gonzalez but the rest of the council thought otherwise.
In fact, resolution sponsor Saprina Rodriguez suggested even stronger language saying quote, “I dont want us to participate in the enforcement of federal immigration laws. Period.”
Swinging the vote in favor of the approval was Councilman Ron Orenstein and Councilwoman Madge Strong. Meanwhile, the other "no" vote came from Vice Mayor Larry Stranske who simply stated the resolution was inappropriate.
Stranske refused to comment further when pressed by the public.
With the approval, the matter and thus the resolution were finalized.
Gonzalez, who repeatedly claimed he supported the intent of the resolution, still stood by the decision.
“While I supported the spirit of the resolution, I have to always defer to counsel especially when it comes to the finances of the city,” he said.