I, Michael H. Wilson, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties upon which I am about to enter.
That is the Oath of Office I have taken five times having been elected and re-elected to the Indio City Council. I take this Oath seriously, and I believe in the “Rule of Law” as a part of my character and who I am.
I was born in Santa Ana, Calif., and moved to Indio at the age of 4 where I lived for a school year before moving to Salton Sea Beach. I lived in a single-wide, one-bedroom mobile home with my parents and my brother. Money was extremely tight for my family as the construction industry, my dad’s employment, was up and down during that time. I lived in these circumstances until we moved back to Indio when I entered high school, at Coachella Valley High.
At the age of 17, having just graduated from Coachella Valley High School, I married my high school sweetheart, a Hispanic woman, with a child on the way. At that time, Coachella Valley High School demographics showed the school population at 98 percent Hispanic. Soon, by the time I was 23, I was a father of four children — two boys and two girls.
At age of 19, I began serving my community, Indio, by becoming a volunteer firefighter. Becoming a firefighter is a calling, not just a job. My calling was about helping people, all people, in their darkest hours or under great losses. I spent the next 22 years serving the public as a firefighter, engineer, fire captain, and chief officer. My assignments have been in Indio, Mecca, Coachella, Thermal, Oasis, Perris, San Bernardino, Palm Desert, Menifee Lakes and Canyon Lake. In 1995 I ran for Indio City Council and won. So, I have been serving the Indio Community for 31 years of my life between the fire service and the Indio City Council.
Why is this important information? Because it forms the very person, character, and upbringing that shaped the man I have become. I have spent my 52 years side-by-side, growing up, serving, helping, and understanding the Hispanic community. I spent 26 years of my life married into a Hispanic family that was more of my family than my own.
This brings me to the current political climate and the recent Sanctuary City policy attacks waged on me and the Indio City Council. This attack has been waged by mostly non-residents of Indio, including residents from Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Palm Desert, Coachella, and Bermuda Dunes. The ring leader of this group was Steve Finger, an extreme liberal activist who has allegedly had his own brushes with law enforcement. Initially, Mr. Finger represented himself as a leader of the local activist group, Courageous Resistance. Mr. Finger and his extreme activist followers began over six months ago attacking the Indio City Council. Then they turned to me as an individual, as I have spoken up and defended my — and the City Council’s — current position. These attacks became so extreme that the local Courageous Resistance Group told Mr. Finger and his extremist followers they were too extreme, over the top and appalling, and asked them to leave their group. Today, two of those followers remain, attacking the City Council and myself. When they finally learned the Indio City Council was “united” on this topic they turned to personally attacking me because I stood up for my “Oath of Office” and the “Rule of Law.”
Let’s be very clear, Sanctuary City Policies are against Federal Law. These laws can only be changed in the U.S. Congress. These policies also fly in the face of the Oath we took when we swore to uphold the Constitution. As we see in today’s climate, the U.S. Attorney General is now upholding these laws and threatening to charge elected officials with crimes for breaking the law. Furthermore, when this issue became front-page news in The Desert Sun, the Indio Community spoke up. The City Council received numerous emails from community members urging the City Council to stand strong and not give in to this Sanctuary City movement. Incredibly, about 95 percent of the emails I received were from our Hispanic Community demanding that we not adopt these Sanctuary City policies as their families had followed the law and process and eventually became citizens and that everyone “needs to follow the law.”
Just because the Indio City Council has made a decision to follow the law, and honor our Oath of Office, doesn’t mean we don’t care for our community, our Hispanic Community. Our efforts and outreach in Indio and the Social Services dollars we have invested in our city, such as Indio’s Better Neighborhoods Program and our efforts with Martha’s Village and the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission, show our commitment to our community.
We have met with, and are working with, multiple organizations, including the Mexican Consulate, to find ways to help and support our Community. Immigration is a federal responsibility. We cannot change immigration at the local or state level. It is not a policy or law we can control at the Indio City Council level. We have encouraged those that have attacked us to consult with their Congressman and to take the issue to the Federal Government. Some may have strong feelings on this subject and want to wage the war at the local government level.
Unfortunately, local government is not the place to change the Federal Law. If a majority of local city councils chooses to adopt illegal Sanctuary City policies, I suspect it won’t be very long before there’s a knock at the door and a visit from the Attorney General and the Federal Government enforcing the law. We stand strong in not making the city of Indio a target of the Federal Government and the risk of losing millions of dollars in federal grants that have helped our city prosper.