Two Los Angeles City Council members introduced a motion Tuesday that would decriminalize street vending in the city's parks in an effort to protect undocumented immigrants from receiving criminal charges that could lead to deportation.
The City Council decriminalized street vending on sidewalks in February, but the change did not apply to parks operated by the Department of Recreation and Parks, according to the motion introduced by council members Jose Huizar and Mitch O'Farrell.
When Donald Trump was elected president in 2016 with a promise to increase deportations of undocumented immigrants, some members of the City Council expressed concern that street vendors could end up being targeted for deportation after receiving a citation for vending.
"In February, the Los Angeles City Council voted to decriminalize street vending in order to keep our mostly immigrant vendors out of the overreaching aggressive arms of our federal government looking to target otherwise law-abiding immigrants for deportation," Huizar said. "This motion and another I co-introduced last week help us maintain a consistent stance against the federal government and more importantly, in support of our immigrant community."
The council's February vote replaced criminal misdemeanor charges for street vending with citations and removed criminal penalties against a person who fails to pay an administrative citation.
The new motion would direct city staff to explore ways to remove the misdemeanor charge for vending in parks and report with recommendations to replace it with other penalties to compel compliance without the threat of a criminal penalty.
"The fear and uncertainty endured by our nation's undocumented immigrant population due to actions by the current administration is polarizing. The thought that a 'chargeable offence,' to a vendor who is selling 'elotes' or popsicles could be used under the current administration as just cause for deportation has created real fear amongst those most vulnerable," the motion states.