Before President-elect Donald Trump takes office Jan. 20, some people in Menlo Park are trying to cement protections for populations that may face increased threat under Trump's proposed policies.
City Councilman Ray Mueller has asked that the City Council consider scheduling a discussion about a citywide ordinance that would prohibit any employee of the city of Menlo Park (which includes the police department) from allocating city resources or funds to intern or relocate U.S. citizens based on their religious beliefs, race, or nation of descent; or to create a registry or database of groups based on such factors.
He has drafted an ordinance but plans to work with the city attorney to iron out wording if the council supports the idea when he brings it up at the end of the Tuesday, Nov. 29, meeting.
Away from the City Council Chambers, a group of about 15 to 20 Willows residents met several weeks ago to talk about what they can do to ensure the protection of people in the region who may be threatened by Trump's proposed policies – specifically, Muslims and Latino people, according to Patrick Daly, a participant in the meeting. One resolution they agreed on was to ask the City Council to look into making Menlo Park a "Sanctuary City."
An online survey by Menlo Park resident Jen Mazzon is also being circulated to gather ideas about what measures should be included in a potential ordinance. Sanctuary cities typically offer certain protections to residents who have immigrated illegally. In many cases, they do not provide city resources or personnel toward helping federal agencies investigate residents for deportation.
Gwyn Murray, who organized the Willows neighborhood meeting, said that she got motivated to do something after working as a mentor to students in undocumented families at Menlo-Atherton High School. Those students are now in college, she said, because of policies like the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, an executive order by President Barack Obama that Donald Trump could overturn.
The neighborhood group is also looking into other measures that could support "those in our community who aren't as socioeconomically advantaged" in Redwood City, East Palo Alto and eastern Menlo Park, such as a rent control policy, or organized involvement with local nonprofit organizations, Murray said. The goals, she said of their actions, are to broaden communication, show mutual support and "help people feel like maybe they're not so alone."
"I don't think this would have come up if Trump had not been elected," Daly said.