By Steven Tavares.

It took awhile, but the Hayward City Council unanimously voted Tuesday to join eight other East Bay cities by becoming a sanctuary city.

“We started talking about this just after the election,” said Hayward Councilmember Al Mendall. “It’s taken us a lot of time to get here, but I’m proud of the process.”

It was a sentiment echoed by other Hayward councilmembers, including Elisa Marquez, who had been the most vocal proponent of becoming a sanctuary city over the past months.

As its neighbors to the north–Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda and San Leandro–quickly passed sanctuary city resolutions earlier this year, Hayward’s lack of a position was conspicuous, in part, because of its large Latino population.

Instead, the council decided in late January to form an anti-discrimination task force to tackle the overall issue, along with the sanctuary city designation, which was later recommended to the full council on April 19. The city’s administration, though, had argued for months that Hayward was already following the basic principles of sanctuary cities without actually using the term. Doing so might put its federal funding at risk, said the city administration.

“Despite the objective information that suggests we are doing everything we can to protect our population there is still some symbolic matter and some psychological benefit for becoming a sanctuary city,” said Councilmember Marvin Peixoto. “Nonetheless there are still people who are fearful.”

Similar to other East Bay city councils that have become sanctuary cities, there were numerous jabs at President Donald Trump. “Up until this year I never saw a need for this in Hayward,” said Councilmember Francisco Zermeno. “but the administration in Washington changed that.”

Mendall applauded the level of discourse at Tuesday night’s meeting, saying he was proud of Hayward’s public speakers. He then added, “I’m not proud of the current administration in Washington, D.C.”

A number of public speakers, though, were highly critical of a tweet posted early Tuesday morning on the city’s official Twitter account. The tweet was intended to promote the sanctuary city agenda item, however, an attached image of a taco and the phrase, “Let’s taco bout it,” was labelled racist by some and inflammatory by others. The city deleted the tweet three hours later and posted an apology.

Hayward Councilmember Mark Salinas said the tweet was insulting. “The night were talking about sanctuary and taco is tweeted,” he said. “I can’t think of a more racist or horrible image to put out on social media. That tweet took this city back many, many years. That tweet unraveled a lot of work that we convened a task force to fix.”

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Originally posted at East Bay Citizen.