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Riverside, California City Council Rejects Statement Showing Support of Humanitarian Efforts Toward Undocumented Immigrants

First Posted: Sep 01, 2014 12:32 PM EDT
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Photo : Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

On Tuesday, the city council of Riverside, California, rejected a proposed statement showing the support of humanitarian efforts toward undocumented immigrants.

Councilman Andy Melendez proposed the resolution, a nonbinding statement according to The Press Enterprise, and a council subcommittee recommended it on Aug. 6. The proposal did not promise the of use city funds nor did it encourage the undocumented to stay in the country but stated that the city "stands in support of sanctuary and humanitarian efforts or assistance in the processing and treatment of all immigrants, including those recently arriving into the United States ..."

The proposal was made in response to the July protesting and stopping of three buses transporting unnaccompanied Central American minors in Murrieta, California.

Melendez said he was blindsided that the city council rejected the proposed statement.

"We have been a community that has always been a beacon for that, and I believe that our community still is," he said on Wednesday.

Before allowing dozens of speakers to share their opinions on Tuesday, Mayor William "Rusty" Bailey argued that the resolution was not needed because Riverside has had a "statement of inclusion" since 2001.

Politicians in opposition to the resolution included Councilmen Steve Adams, Mike Gardener and Mike Soubirous.

"I agree with the compassion," Adams said. "I disagree with breaking the rules."

Meanwhile, others spoke out at the debate, which Press Enterprise described as "at times vitriolic," saying that Riverside should do even more to help immigrants in the country.

"I would really like to see the city of Riverside take leadership and say, 'These are people, and these are human beings and I welcome them,'" said Fernando Romero, who works for the Justice for Immigrants Coalition of Inland Southern California.

Others argued that undocumented immigrants are essentially criminals and would deplete U.S. social resources and that welcoming people who need financial and other assistance could be detrimental to Riverside and nearby towns.

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Follow Scharon Harding on Twitter: @ScharHar.

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