SANTA ANA, CA — Carlos Perea is a Santanero at heart. He arrived in the city at age 14 from Mexico to join his family, graduated from nearby Los Amigos High School and Santa Ana College, and went on to become an immigration advocate who led local efforts to create several immigrant aid programs.
Now Mr. Perea, 28, is the first Santa Ana resident who is undocumented to serve on a citywide board, commission or committee. He also is believed to be the first undocumented person to serve in such a capacity among all 34 cities in Orange County.
On Feb. 18, 2020, at the recommendation of Councilmember Vicente Sarmiento, the Santa Ana City Council appointed Mr. Perea to the Measure X Citizen Oversight Committee, a resident-led group that advises the City Council on how revenues and expenditures from the recently approved sales tax measure are utilized.
“The City of Santa Ana is a leader in celebrating and supporting immigrants, which helps keep our community safe, inclusive and economically vibrant,” said Councilmember Sarmiento. “I appreciate Carlos’s courage in being an active member of his community and encouraging others to do the same.”
The Measure X Citizen Oversight Committee was established as part of a sales tax measure, Measure X, which was approved by Santa Ana voters on Nov. 6, 2018. Measure X authorized a 1.5 percent sales tax for 10 years, through 2029, and reducing that sales tax to 1 percent 10 years thereafter, through 2039. The revenues generated from the new sales tax supports the City’s General Fund, which funds emergency 9-1-1 response, fire and police services, homelessness, streets repair, youth and senior services, and more.
In addition to requiring annual audits, the ballot measure also mandated a citizen oversight committee. When the qualifications to serve on the committee were set, the City Council required that a committee member be a resident — instead of a registered voter — of Santa Ana. To be a registered voter, one must be a U.S. citizen. If this were a requirement, undocumented persons would not be allowed to serve on this committee.
“I appreciate the opportunity to serve on the Measure X Citizen Oversight Committee to help ensure that sale tax revenues are spent responsibly and in the best interest of all Santa Ana residents,” Mr. Perea said. “I’m also proud to be part of a community that empowers all of its residents, regardless of their immigration status, to be civically engaged. With easy policy changes, such as eliminating citizenship requirements to serve on the Measure X Citizen Oversight Committee, Santa Ana continues to lead in uplifting
immigrant rights in Orange County by removing barriers to participation in their local government.”
Mr. Perea, who graduated from California State University, Long Beach in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, led advocacy and organizing efforts that resulted in the creation of the Santa Ana Sanctuary Ordinance and Santa Ana Universal Representation Program. In 2017, Carlos helped found the Orange County Justice Fund, which advocates for effective legal representation and due process for immigrants in detention and deportation.
The City of Santa Ana facilitates 11 boards, commissions and committees that serve in an advisory role to the City Council. For more information, visit https://www.santa-ana.org/cc/appointed-boards-and-commission.