The Langley City Council finally took a stand.
It wasn’t the toughest stand. It wasn’t enough to satisfy all the critics. But it was something.
Monday night, Councilman Bruce Allen resurrected a much-debated ordinance to make the Village By the Sea into an inclusive city, which translates to “sanctuary city” to most people. The ordinance seeks to limits the city’s cooperation with the federal government in enforcing immigration laws and prohibits the targeting of people based on religious, ethnic, civil or immigration status.
Allen seemed to surprise both his colleagues and a small audience of onlookers when he took the ordinance off the shelf, where it had been placed in June. Allen, in fact, had been against the ordinance but now said he’s pushing it forward to avoid the discord of the past.
It ended up passing in a 3-0 vote.
It was a sneaky and surprising turn of events, especially considering Allen’s especially ardent opposition to the ordinance in the past. The item wasn’t on the agenda for the meeting and citizens weren’t given a chance to comment before it was passed that night.
The bombshell nature of Allen’s actions will surely make people speculate about his motives for doing it that way. Was it a reaction to the election of candidates in favor of making Langley an inclusive city? A way to save face? Whatever his reasoning, it was a thoroughly undemocratic way to get an ordinance passed.
The ordinance isn’t perfect. It’s watered down and toothless, as members of the advocacy group Inclusive Langley were quick to point out. They say it prevents city staff from being held accountable if they violate the ordinance. Still, the point of the ordinance is largely about symbolism anyway. Its adoption means that Langley has joined the ranks of communities that became inclusive or sanctuary cities. It’s a stand against racial profiling and the kind of anti-immigrant blather Donald Trump has been spewing since before he became president.
Perhaps Langley’s ordinance will be tweaked or replaced when the newly elected council members come on board. Perhaps the council will choose to leave a combustible issue alone.
We don’t like the way it was done and wish the ordinance could hold public officials and Langley police officers accountable. But, members of the city council and the citizens of Langley should be proud to live in an inclusive community.
It may not be the best start, but it’s a start.