Los Alamitos Mayor Troy Edgar never imagined that the city’s action to exempt itself from California’s controversial sanctuary law would spark a movement.
But that’s what has happened. Following a March vote by the city council, at least six counties and numerous other cities across the state — all with strong Republican registration — have announced opposition to Senate Bill 54, the California Values Act. San Diego and Orange counties gained the most attention when their boards of supervisors voted to support the U.S. Attorney General’s lawsuit against the law.
“I knew there would be some sort of reaction. But I didn’t anticipate it would be this big.” — Troy Edgar
Tehama, Shasta, Siskiyou and Kern counties have passed anti-sanctuary law resolutions. Cities that have done something similar include Orange County communities Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley and Yorba Linda and San Joaquin County town Ripon. In a Twitter post last week, President Trump said the actions amount to a “revolution.”
Edgar was aware that many people were unhappy with SB 54, which limits the use of local law enforcement resources for federal immigration enforcement efforts.
“I knew there would be some sort of reaction,” he said about Los Alamitos’ move to sidestep the new law. “But I didn’t anticipate it would be this big.”
Edgar said he was motivated to oppose the sanctuary law because he believes it violates the U.S. Constitution and because his constituents don’t like the law. “When you’re in the city level, you hear so many frustrations,” he said. “A lot of people want us to try to do as much as we can.”
He also said he was hurt by Gov. Jerry Brown’s statement blaming “low-life politicians” for the anti-sanctuary movement. “I’ve been trying to conduct myself professionally and I don’t want to come off as hard-core partisan,” Edgar said.
SB 54 was approved in reaction to executive orders by Trump and Homeland Security memos that outline a mass deportation strategy against illegal immigrants.
Among the other opponents of SB 54 is the California State Sheriff’s Association, which is concerned about the restrictions on local law enforcement’s ability to communicate with other agencies to protect public safety.
“We understand and appreciate this is a volatile and divisive matter,” the group says in a statement on its website. “Sheriffs do not wish to act as immigration police, nor are they, and we protect EVERYONE in our communities regardless of immigration status. That said, we need to continue to cooperate with our law enforcement partners – especially as it relates to the release of offenders from our jails to ensure that those who victimize our communities are not given unnecessary opportunities to do more harm.”
Jim Brulte, chairman of the California Republican Party, said a significant percentage of Californians do not like the idea of being a sanctuary state. “When the out-of-touch state government gets involved and decides to ignore federal law, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that there’s an equal and opposite reaction,” he said.
Los Alamitos was sued last week by the American Civil Liberties Union, which argues that cities can’t pick and choose which state laws they will follow
SB 54 was approved in reaction to executive orders by Trump and Homeland Security memos that outline a mass deportation strategy against illegal immigrants. Author Sen. Kevin de Leon was concerned about immigration arrests outside schools and courthouses. He said that by enforcing immigration laws, local police lose the trust of undocumented immigrants. Then crimes go unreported because witnesses believe they could be deported.
Senate leader Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, criticized the San Diego Board of Supervisors’ move to oppose the sanctuary law as misguided. She said the sanctuary law is constitutional and protects public safety.
“SB 54 does not shield violent and dangerous criminals from deportation, and it does not prevent federal immigration authorities from doing their job,” she said in a statement. “We’ve worked hard to bring our undocumented immigrant communities out of the shadows and into society because research shows it makes our state safer and more prosperous for all.”
Los Alamitos was sued last week by the American Civil Liberties Union, which argues that cities can’t pick and choose which state laws they will follow. The ACLU said the city’s move to exempt itself from SB 54 is illegal, wastes taxpayer money and threatens residents’ safety.
Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, a proponent of the sanctuary law, pointed out that the opposition is coming from Republican stronghold areas of the state. “The Trump administration has found a clever way to ignite their base,” he said.
He pointed out that the law does allow local law enforcement to share inmate release dates and transfer inmates to immigration authorities if they commit any of 800 offences, which includes violent and serious crimes.
“What it comes down to is fundamental difference in philosophy in what an immigrant means to this country,” he said.