NAACP, Murrieta town hall addresses economic development, immigration

Various dignitaries from the Murrieta City Council, police department and members of NAACP Branch No. 1034 led a community discussion at the Murrieta Public Library, Sept. 28. Vice president of the branch and former Murrieta city councilman, Harry Ramos, coordinated the discussion and brought together 100 community members who attended the open forum.

Topics of discussion included public safety, immigration and economic development, among others.

Panelists included Murrieta Mayor Rick Gibbs, Murrieta Mayor Pro Tem Jonathan Ingram, Director of Civics and Constitution Studies for the Congress of Racial Equality Doug Gibbs, Police Chief Sean Hadden, Latina Association of Riverside County President Martha Howard, U.S. Marine Corps retired Sgt. Maj. Larock Benford, attorney Majid Safaie, Democrats of Southwest Riverside County President Jorge Lopez and NAACP Branch No. 1034 President Darryl Smith Sr.

Each of the panelists was encouraged to have open and respectful dialogue.

The opening question asked panelists to consider economic programs that assist minorities. Multiple panelists, especially Howard, Lopez and Benford, voiced their support toward education.

“Economic development will not happen without sustainable education,” Howard said.

Lopez followed in agreement and explained how his commute could be made local with more local universities.

“We are one community,” Rick Gibbs said. “Murrieta is focused on creating jobs. It’s our number one priority. We’re doing the best we can, but that is never enough because it is a work in progress.”

Doug Gibbs said his focus was on the local community.

“My main focus on localism: local control on local issues, not having outside agencies dictating to the city,” he said. “Murrieta has been strong in doing what is necessary in protecting its economy. To grow this economy, we need balance. Balance, being working with the many industries.”

Ingram explained how a dollar circulates seven times in a city before it leaves.

Other speakers promoted an expansion of information technician training for youth.

Another discussion point that received considerable attention was immigration and its effects on the community, especially with regards to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and Senate Bill 54.

“The biggest thing about immigration is that everyone is looking for security. We are all looking for the best life for their family,” Lopez said. “They aren’t here to victimize anyone.”

Lopez proposed continuing a pathway to legalizing undocumented immigrants because it helps makes tracking them simpler.

Hadden said that the police department would remain separate from federal issues regarding immigration and deportation.

“Murrieta police department generally does not get involved with local immigration,” he said. “Our role in local law enforcement is not to get involved with immigration. It’s to build trust with our community, enforce laws and protect our community.”

The police department wants to build trust and relationships to prevent unreported crimes, he said.

Lopez and Howard suggested the city to declare itself a sanctuary city according to Senate Bill 54, but Doug Gibbs dissented claiming the bill is unconstitutional.

Smith said Murrieta should open more dialogues and informational classes about DACA to the community.

No action was taken, but the discussion offered both the dignitaries and the community the opportunity to hear more perspectives, specifically regarding immigration and economic development.

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