Report From Occupied America: Maywood, CA—Small Town USA To Illegal Sanctuary City…In Just Three Decades!
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Last week, Maywood, California became a "sanctuary for immigrants," after a unanimous vote by the newly-elected City Council.

Maywood, California is a small town in Los Angeles County with a population of roughly 30,000.

For those of you who imagine Southern California to be little more than a piping-hot desert full of criminals, let me assure you, nothing is further from the truth.

I've spent most of my life in Southern California. I wish you could see these little towns for the way they used to look—rather than what many of them have become.

A town like Maywood, where the average home was built in 1930, once looked like something from the imagination of Norman Rockwell (I just had to go cliché, huh? OK, Monet!). Pastel flowers, and ladies walked about wearing large straw hats and white gloves.

Many towns in this section of LA County still maintain vestiges of American beauty. Pasadena is a mere 16 miles away and still boasts some of the most expensive and picturesque real estate in California.

According to US Census data [from State of the Cities Data Systems (SOCDS), search for Maywood, CA]:

  • In 1970, a majority of the Maywood population was White, with some Blacks and Asians

  • In 1970, the total foreign-born population was only 14.4%

  • In 1980, the Hispanic population in Maywood was more than 80%. By 1980, nearly half (49.3 percent) were foreign-born

  • In 1980, there were slightly more than 3,700 White people living in Maywood

  • in 2000, there were about 700 whites in Maywood

  • In 2000, Maywood was 97% Hispanic. More than 55% of its residents are foreign-born.

A couple of years ago, the Maywood Police Department set up two vehicle checkpoints along the main drag of this Southern California town.

Of course, officers asked all drivers for their licenses and registrations—which as we all know, is standard operating procedure.  If drivers were found to be driving without a legal driver's license, their cars were impounded.

All vehicles were held for the requisite amount of time—30 days—in order to give the owner ample opportunity to pay the impound fees, the traffic fine (if any) and of course, provide proof of license to drive a vehicle in California.

The program was originally started to cut down on drunk driving and vehicle theft problems in Maywood. More than 1800 vehicles were impounded in a 12-month period. [See U.C. Institute for Labor and Employment Working Paper 86 October 2003, PDF pg. 16.]

As it turned out, the majority of vehicles were seized from Hispanic illegal aliens who were…driving without a license, of course.

And the Latinlobbyists went nuts.

"We are outraged and demand an immediate investigation into growing reports that local law enforcement in Maywood, California appear to be preying on Latino drivers," said Hector Flores, LULAC National President. "These motorists are being regularly stopped at checkpoints under the guise of traffic safety and losing their vehicles through tactics that smack of nothing less than shameless profiteering at the expense of the poor." [Press Release: LULAC Affirms Call For Federal Probe Questioning Corruption and Profiting by the City of Maywood]

As I have stated many times before, I am no great shakes at math.

But this town's population is 97% Hispanic! (Now—thanks to illegal immigration.)

How much "preying" could possibly be involved?

If the police had arrested every single Black person in Maywood, that would only be 43 people (according to the 2000 census). That would have made a better argument for profiling, right?

Then the local illegal immigration apologists (which in this case would be the whole town) ran their people in the local City Council races—and won.

Vice-Mayor Felipe Aguirre was elected just three months ago, in November 2005.

Practically his first order of business: a mere two months later, Aguirre led the city council to name Maywood a "sanctuary city."

A former "immigration counselor" (political bio here), Aguirre doesn't think a guest worker program will work—if the "workers" are not citizens, they won't be able to collect social security and reap other citizenship-based benefits.

He was quoted in a February 1 2006 AP story by Paul Chavez as saying:

"We have to change the concept of being illegal…people are people and are here for a reason." [LA immigrant advocates denounce Bush's guest worker proposal]

Oh…they're here for a reason?

Yes…generally speaking most crimes are committed "for a reason" and I suppose this community is no different.

But it's still a crime, Vice-Mayor Felipe.

Now then…based on the 2004 statistics (here) from the FBI Crime Reports, the "overall crime rate" in Maywood is below the national average.

Sounds pretty good, don't it?

Taking a closer look at the table [here], the red "x" indicates a crime level above the national average; a green "check-mark" indicates a level below the national average.

Crime Type


2004 Total

Per 100,000 People

National per 100,000 People

Overall Maywood Crime Index




Maywood Murders




Maywood Rapes




Maywood Robberies




Maywood Aggravated Assaults




Maywood Property Crimes




Maywood Burglaries




Maywood Larceny/Thefts




Maywood Motor Vehicle Thefts




Huh…the overall crime rate in Maywood is below the national average in spite of the fact that their murder rate is three times higher!

Let's see: Murder…higher. Rape…higher. Robbery…higher.

What it should say is: the crime rate in Maywood is lower than the national average unless you count the crimes that actually matter to people, such as murder and rape."

And look! Motor Vehicle Thefts is…higher!

The Maywood police department seems to have been heading in the right direction.

But now with the new "sanctuary" status for illegals, the police department's hands are pretty much tied.

According to an AP story in the San Francisco Chronicle, [LA suburb prohibits police from work with immigration agents, January 25, 2006]

"Bruce Leflar, Maywood's police chief, said his 43-officer force did not enforce immigration law and had no plans to do so."

Hmm…the Chief of Police in Maywood is hired and/or fired by the City Council.

Chief Leflar would likely find himself in the unemployment line if he said anything else.

(I tried to reach Chief Leflar to ask him about this immigration policy and its effect on law enforcement. But as of posting time, I had not heard back from him. You try—email him here.)

According to a report by the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California at San Diego (here), Maywood is the most crowded city west of the Mississippi.

"According to Census 2000, Maywood remains the city with the highest population density outside of the greater New York City area."


The town encompasses just one square mile and it was never meant to house more than 10,000 people at the most.

With three times that many now crammed into every nook and cranny, this small—once charming—town is literally bursting at the seams.

The last time I drove through Maywood, I was completely astonished by what I saw.

There are rows and rows of older, once-quaint but now dilapidated homes with—I'm not joking—5 or 6 mailboxes nailed haphazardly to the front each single-dwelling home.

There are myriad temporary dwellings—such as portable sheds—pitched in backyards and rented out as "apartments" so that 15 or 20 people are all living on the same residential lot.

Nothing was written in English. There seemed to be as many stray dogs as there were people roaming about town.

(Oh shut up with the "racist stereotype" griping—it's true, even if doesn't sound nice.)

Just to cover all my bases, let's look at education. According to a Washington Post article about Los Angeles school over-crowding [Out West, a Paradox by Blaine Harden August 11,2005]

"Schools have been officially overcrowded and operating on an emergency year-round schedule for 23 years."

Why have I dedicated this week's column to this little California town?

So that I could end with this final question:

Whose town is next?

Whose country?

Bryanna Bevens [email her] is a political consultant and former chief of staff for a member of the California State Assembly.

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