By Staff, Photo by Yesenia Aguilar
The Arvin City Council in an emotional meeting voted against sanctuary city status on Tuesday. Council members Jose Gurrola and Gabriela Martinez voted in favor while council members Erika Madrigal and Jazmin Robles voted against. Council member, Jess Ortiz, recused himself from the meeting, citing a conflict of interest.
Dozens of speakers called on the Arvin City Council and urged them to protect their families by declaring Arvin a sanctuary city.
“I know what it’s like to come home and not find my dad because he has been deported,” said one speaker, adding that everyday she fears coming home from school to an empty house because all she has left is her mother.
Several students from Arvin High reminded city leaders that more than 900 students participated in a ‘#DayWithoutImmigrants,’ by skipping school last week. City leaders, they said, should consider their action as a strong message as to where the community stands on this issue.
“When Mayor Gurrola first hinted that this measure would not pass, my heart sank. I felt in a way betrayed. I couldn’t believe that the board was not empathizing with not only the hundreds of immigrants who filled the chambers that night, but the residents who also live in Arvin and are not leaving their house for fear of being deported,” said Yesenia Aguilar, a youth reporter for South Kern Sol.
“At school, I see students who have never been civically engaged coming out to speak up for their parents, and family members because they fear that their family could be separated,” said Aguilar, who also addressed the city council that evening. “I hope that in the future, Arvin City Leaders stand with the community to make Arvin a sanctuary city and protect families from being separated.”