By Steven Tavares.

On the same night Alameda and Emeryville, with some urgency, declared themselves sanctuary cities, the Hayward City Council set the stage for creating an up to 22-person task force to combat discrimination in the city. One of the possible outcomes, however, includes becoming a sanctuary city.

“Since the presidential election last fall, there’s been a lot of turmoil nationwide and concern that has been brought forward from our community, in particular, about how can we maintain Hayward as an inclusive and supportive community and that has taken the form in a lot of different requests to the city,” said Hayward City Manager Kelly McAdoo.

The proposed task force could be convened by the end of February and include an update to the city’s “Anti-Discrimination Action Plan,” created in 1992. “We would like to convene as quickly as possible,” said McAdoo.

In the meantime, the task force needs members. Under the proposal approved Tuesday night, each of the seven councilmembers will nominate four people. McAdoo and Hayward Mayor Barbara Halliday will then choose two names from each councilmember.

An additional four members would be tabbed by McAdoo and Halliday, along with three members of the Community Service Commission and one from the Personnel Commission. Hayward Councilmember Sara Lamnin urged for another seat set aside for a member of the city’s Youth Commission.

Hayward Councilmember Francisco Zermeno, though, believes the size of task force may produce diminishing returns. “Knowing people, they will have a preface to their preface and then finally get to their declaration before getting to their question,” said Zermeno. “So if we have up to 22 individuals, that’s just too unwieldy. It will just go on and on and on forever and not get anything done.”

“As diverse as Hayward is, I don’t know if you can represented it in small numbers,” Lamnin responded.

With the onset of the Trump administration upon the nation, many in the East Bay, including Hayward residents, have expressed fear over the future of their immigrant and religious communities. The possibility of Hayward becoming a sanctuary city some time in the future was raised by Zermeno,

In addition, Zermeno, a Chabot College Spanish professor for nearly four decades, pushed for the Hayward Unified School District and Chabot College to declare safe havens for students. “The first thing they tell me is, ‘I’m scared,’ said Zermeno. “One way to have them concentrate on their studies is to tell them, ‘You’re safe here.’”

But, any such action on sanctuary cities could be months away from reaching a dialogue on the Hayward City Council.

“This really goes on beyond this,” Halliday said of the sanctuary city issue. “What we’re doing here is trying to put in place not just a commitment to anti-discrimination, but a commitment to how we live here with diversity. I like to say Hayward is coming a model for what the world is becoming.”

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Originally posted at East Bay Citizen.