By Mary McKenzie
Immigration and racial profiling were the two high-interest issues that informed this month’s meeting of the Hillcrest Town Council (HTC) on May 9.
Well-known immigration attorney Lilia Velasquez spoke to the community about the difficult challenges facing immigration policy today.
As a practicing attorney and a professor of the subject, Velasquez was well-positioned to explain how these challenges affect all of us. She enumerated several issues that have renewed importance in the current political environment: visas for professional workers, potential travel bans that could affect green card holders among others, hate crimes, refugees and sanctuary cities.
Although Mayor Kevin Faulconer has said that San Diego is not a sanctuary city, Police Chief Shelley Zimmermann has stated that the “San Diego Police Department does not check the immigration status of victims and witnesses of crimes.”
This is because, Velasquez said, undocumented immigrants will fear calling the police even to report a crime. Already, she said, these immigrants are calling hotlines instead of the police.
Gerlynn Gacao of the ACLU reported to the audience on a recent study of traffic stops and racial profiling (or biased policing) conducted by San Diego State University. The 2014-15 study shows that differential treatment based on skin color is supported by the data. The Hillcrest Town Council voted to support the ACLU’s recommendations on transparency in the Police Department.
The HTC also welcomed public comment regarding neighborhood empowerment and parking.
Jessica Mier from Congresswoman Susan Davis’ office reported on a bill that would enable K-12 teachers to teach their students how to identify potential victims of human trafficking.
Brittany Bailey of City Councilmember Chris Ward’s office reported on Ward’s emphasis on homelessness as well as on the struggles occurring because of proposed budgetary cuts. She encouraged the audience members to contact her with any concerns regarding city programs.
David Mier of UCSD Health Center told the crowd that changes to its property will be happening because of legislation requiring earthquake protection. He invited the audience to a community open house on June 7 to discuss what plans are in the wings for the space. The meeting will be at 6 p.m. at the Indoor Sports Club, located at 3030 Front St. in Bankers Hill.
Lastly, HTC president Kath Rogers announced that the board had chosen Jae Mohr to complete the term of HTC treasurer David Coben, who has resigned.
The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 13 at 6:30 p.m.
—Mary M. McKenzie is secretary of the Hillcrest Town Council. For more information, visit hillcresttowncouncil.org.