Valley councilman addresses national issue on local level

first_imgAs the politics of immigration play out on the streets of Los Angeles this week with boisterous rallies, West San Fernando Valley Councilman Dennis Zine has provided a quiet link to the national debate in Washington. Zine has helped shape immigration policy for the National League of Cities since December, when he was appointed to lead the influential local government group’s task force on the hot-button issue. “While the bureaucrats in Washington have their issues, their agendas, we’re looking at what’s gonna work for the cities,” Zine said. Conservative by Los Angeles standards, Zine has opposed the appointment of an American Civil Liberties Union leader to a homelessness panel and voted against a raise for a Department of Water and Power union, but backed job protections for grocery workers and pressed for affordable housing requirements in Warner Center. “I think any skeptics out there, he’s certainly proved them wrong because he brought together a very diverse group of individuals,” Hunt said. Community leaders feel strongly about immigration policy because they feel they have been put in a difficult position, Hunt said. “Local law enforcement, local social services and local infrastructure are stretched every day that we move forward with very little support funding-wise from the federal government,” he said. There is widespread opposition within the league to the immigration bill passed by the House of Representatives, which makes illegal immigration a felony and criminalizes activity that assists migrants. The progeny of Lebanese immigrants, Zine said working on the issue has been particularly gratifying. While Southern California has seen some strong anti-immigration sentiment, Zine said he has received mostly positive feedback. “There are those that are going to say, ‘Just deport them,’ there are those that are going to say, ‘Fortify the border and don’t give them hospitalization or education,’ ” he said. “But they forget about the Irish and the Chinese and all the other immigrants who helped build this country.” Dan Laidman, (213) 978-0390 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl event On national issues, Zine voted against council resolutions opposing the Iraq war and the Patriot Act, but supported another endorsing gay marriage. Under Zine’s leadership, the immigration task force has taken a similarly moderate approach, recommending a package of reforms similar to what the Senate Judiciary Committee approved this week but opposing a stricter House bill. The task force wants stepped-up border enforcement as well as a path to citizenship for undocumented migrants. The panel’s 22 members from across the country oppose having local cops enforce immigration laws but want employers to verify workers’ citizenship status. The League of Cities will decide in the coming weeks whether to endorse the recommendations, but in the meantime league President Jim Hunt said Zine has created consensus around a notoriously polarizing issue. Hunt, a councilman in Clarksburg, W.Va., said he tapped Zine because of his compassion and his law enforcement background, which at first had some league members concerned. last_img

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