The Council heard from almost 50 speakers who urged them to join the litigation as amicus curiae, which literally means “friend of the court.” Speakers said the travel ban affects San Diego as it is the largest U.S. city so close to the Mexican border.
The 8-1 vote was held in closed session, with Seventh District Councilmember Scott Sherman voting no. Sherman’s aide said he voted no because a federal judge has already put a halt to Trump’s order, which stopped the chaos at U.S. airports where people with green cards and permanent residents were prevented from entering the country.
Amicus curiae is a Latin term. It is defined as a party who assists a court by offering information on a case and is interested in its outcome but is not an original plaintiff or party in the case.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer did not appear before the City Council, but published accounts said he favored the city joining the state of Washington’s lawsuit against Trump’s executive order, which also suspended the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.
Mark Arabo, a Chaldean-American who is from Iraq, told the Council he was “a child of an immigrant who was a refugee.” He said Trump’s order stopping travel from seven mostly Muslim countries “is against our values—what bonds us is our values.”
“When the administration targets Muslims, when it targets immigrants when it targets refugees, make no mistake that is targeting our people,” said Eva Posner.
Three speakers opposed the city filing as amicus curiae and were booed, so Council President Myrtle Cole told the energetic crowd several times to stop heckling, booing or applauding speakers.
“Donald Trump won the election,” said Hud Collins, saying Trump had the authority to issue the executive order.
“I believe the Council should focus on local problems, not foreign policy,” said Roger Ogden. “What you’re doing now will have no positive impact at all, but we will draw the negative consequences from your decision…as the city has a reputation as an anti-Trump city.”
“It’s such a strange time for hatred and racism to be accepted now,” said Curt Hensley. “Immigrants aren’t coming here to harm us.”
“This executive order paints a target on every military family,” said David Warmoth. “It gives out the idea we don’t care for Muslims. This is not what America is about.”
“We’re a city of immigrants,” said a woman holding a baby. “As a city and a nation, we’re better than this.”
“Many immigrants are members of the LGBT community,” said Rebekah Hook-Held who works for the LGBT Center. “We must stand up for our friends, our neighbors, our loved ones.”
“We must be of one voice in saying that this executive order harms our community, undermines its values, and threatens our shared future,” said a man who identified himself as Mr. Hasan.
Genevieve Suzuki, who represents the San Diego Japanese American Citizens League, told the Council the executive order reminds some of the 1940’s when Japanese-Americans were held in internment camps following Pearl Harbor.
“Stand on the right side of history,” said a woman wearing a burka. “We must not be silent. We must stand tall.”