San Diego

National City Declares Itself a ‘Compassionate Community'

"We want to define ourselves, we don’t want to belong to some organization," said National City Mayor Ron Morrison

National City's City Council has unanimously voted to declare itself a so-called "compassionate community" for refugees and immigrants.

Monday night, dozens gathered to attend the meeting and voice their opinions on SB54, the measure. SB54 makes California a statewide sanctuary for many people who are in the country illegally.

Representatives also discussed the possibility of becoming a sanctuary city. 

But National City Mayor Ron Morrison said the City ultimately chose to create its own definition. 

"We want to define ourselves, we don’t want to belong to some organization," said National City Mayor Ron Morrison.

This decision comes after the parents of four children in National City were detained by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in May.

Rosenda Perez, 48, was recently reunited with her family at the San Ysidro trolley station after posting bail three days earlier. Her husband, 51-year-old Francisco Duarte, remains in custody at the Otay Mesa Detention Center.

Following the incident, many in the community have been on edge.

But even the council's decision to become a "compassionate city" Monday night did not ease fears of deportation.

"We want the council to listen and to hear us when we say the people here need to be safe, to feel safe," said Michelle Gates told NBC 7.

Gates, 48, has made National City her home for the last 15 years. She said she wants National City's mayor and the City Council to become a "welcoming city".

For her, it means everyone is welcome.

"We will serve everyone who is here. We will serve you to the best of our ability," Gates said. "Doesn't matter who you are. Where you're from."

According to allegations brought up in court Friday, the couple rented ice cream carts to undocumented immigrants and profited from the sales. The court allowed the individuals to stay at their home.

But the couple's children and many community members claim they were targeted unjustly, despite not having a criminal record.

"We have majority Mexicano and Asian community and many of them are of mix status families," said Benjamin Prado, a community organizer. "We do believe the city can do more to protect undocumented migrants who are working in the city."

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