CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. - One desert city is making it official and designating itself a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants. After a three to two vote last night Cathedral City is the first in the Coachella Valley to become a sanctuary city. Now they're hoping to be an example for other neighboring cities.
It's a title councilman Shelley Kaplan has been fighting for since January.
"Our policies and procedures have made us essentially a sanctuary jurisdiction for years, but many of our residents are living in fear and if they're not living in fear they're living in fear for people they know. We thought it was important to make this step to let the residents in our community understand that we're a sanctuary city," Kaplan said.
While the city promises not to question people's citizenship status, federal law remains as is, and officials can detain those who are undocumented at any given moment.
"Federal law enforcement is responsible for enforcing civil immigration laws. Our police department is focused on criminal matters within the city. Basically, this resolution clarifies that definition between the two law enforcement organizations," Kaplan said.
Kaplan says he's proud to be the first Valley city to make the statement, but certainly doesn't want to be the last.
"We're hoping that this is an example that will encourage some of the other cities in the Valley to take the same steps that we have taken," Kaplan said.
Palm Springs councilman Geoff Kors authored Palm Springs' non-discrimination ordinance.
He supports Cathedral City's effort to protect their community, but says Palm Springs City Council has no plans in following.
"Sanctuary city, the term, has no legal definition which is why Trump has lost in court on that issue. What we did, is much broader. What it says is, we're not going to discriminate against a whole bunch of categories; gender, race, sexual orientation, etc. Our ordinance is for everyone, to make sure that everyone knows they're not forced to provide information they don't want to.
We also reached out to the city of Coachella, which has been known to operate as a sanctuary city.
Mayor Pro-tem, Emmanual Martinez, says the city supports their immigrant community and commends Cathedral City, but they do not plan on opening discussion to obtain the sanctuary city title.