Things That Matter

A City Council Member In California Created Controversy For Standing Up For The Immigrant Community

When City Council member Ruth Luevanos made a Facebook post on July 13 advising immigrants about their rights, she thought she was acting in good faith for her community. Fast forward a few weeks later, Luevanos has been the target of mass criticism and even a death threat from the traditionally conservative town. Many are calling for the council members resignation but there is also a number of people who are standing by her. 

How did this whole ordeal get started in a conservative town like Simi Valley?

Credit: @grantgoldberg / Twitter

Luevanos posted the video, which was filmed in her office and posted onto her personal City Council Facebook page, the day before what was supposed to be the start of President Trump’s nationwide series of immigrant raids. She says the video was made in part “to inform people of their rights,” noting that other California public officials, including California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, made announcements about Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids.

The City Council member intentions were to also inform and assure constituents that California’s sanctuary state measure, Senate Bill 54, was still the law. The bill, which standardizes non-cooperation standards between California law enforcement agencies and federal immigration authorities, has been a national hot topic issue.

“I’m here to tell you you have rights,” Luevanos says as she sits in front of an American flag resembling a Mexican serape blanket.”You do not have to open your door to ICE officials. ICE cannot legally force their entry into your home.”

But the root of the controversy came from some of the comments that Luevanos made about law enforcement and comments about ICE detention centers. Like many other progressives, Luevanos has advocated for abolishing ICE.

Credit:@vcstar/Twitter

“Right now, the United States is in the business of running concentration camps,” Luevanos says in the three-minute video. “They’re asking (detainees) to drink out of toilets. They’re verbally and physically harassing them. And they’re denying them basic sanitary care.”

As the video features footage of President Trump, Luevanos calls the immigration raids “a political stunt by our current president to ensure his re-election.”

“We have a responsibility as community leaders that our most vulnerable — whether they’re homeless, or veterans, or low-income or our immigrant population — are taken care of and that they feel safe in our community,” Luevanos said.

At an open city council meeting on Monday, Luevanos went face to face with many of those that are calling for her to step down. 

Credit: @mike_harris / Twitter

In a hostile City Council meeting on Monday, Simi Valley residents voiced their opinion on the Facebook video. According to the Ventura County Star, there were dozens of speakers, some there opposing Luevanos and some in attendance to support her message. 

Many of her critics say that the council member is advocating for unlawfulness and is spreading false information about immigration enforcement. Simi Valley resident Jenniffer Jones was at the Monday meeting to voice her frustration with the video.

“She’s advocating lawlessness,” Jones told ABC7. “You can’t be doing this. These people went to court, they had their due process. A judge decided they cannot be in the U.S. any longer.”

Even Simi Valley Mayor Keith Mashburn has had his concerns about the Facebook post and the look it gives the City Council as a whole. Mashburn says he doesn’t have an issue with Luevanos exercising her free speech but said that she shouldn’t have used her city office.

“It gave the appearance that it was endorsed by the city,” Mashburn told CBS2. “It had a city logo, and she announced that she was a city council member. It made it appear that it was the stance of the council.”

Despite the backlash, Luevanos has also seen a rise in support from local residents that support her stance. 

Credit: @edithh_g / Twitter

Renee Fraser was one of those supporters that came out to the meeting in support of the first-term council member.  “Thank you for telling people their rights,” she told the VC Star. “That is America.”

The support has come from different parts of the Simi Valley that say that Luevanos is being targeted for racial reasons, noting that she’s the first Latina elected to the council. One Twitter user said they attended the meeting because of what Luevanos represents in the predominately conservative community.  

“I went to my first city council meeting, to support our first Latina Councilwoman @RuthLuevanos for six hours because she’s in the hot spot for making a know your rights video. May our voices be heard, and thank you for setting an example.”

The controversy doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon as the topic was not on the council’s agenda and thus the no action was taken on it. Many of her critics are now asking for it to be on a future agenda, as well as launching a recall campaign against the council member. But as of now, no action has been taken on the heated issue. 

READ: ICE Confirms That A Mexican Man Has Died Of Cardiac Arrest While In Their Custody And How Does This Keep Happening

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