California’s Illegal Immigration Meltdown

The clashes between various levels of government are escalating since California passed a sanctuary state law.

By Rachel Alexander Published on April 9, 2018

California’s sanctuary city law went into effect on January 1, and the left loves it. But not everyone approves, even in California. Nearly a dozen local governments voted to oppose the law, Senate Bill 54. The city of Huntington Beach is filing a lawsuit against the state. It will be the first city to do so. More may follow.

The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the state last month. The DOJ also named two similar laws, Assembly Bills 103 and 450. Several major cities support the DOJ. The Orange County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to join the lawsuit. The Escondido and the Aliso Viejo city councils both voted 4-1 to join.

What does the bill do? The California Values Act stops local and state law enforcement from notifying ICE when they release illegal immigrants subject to deportation. It bars them from asking about a person’s immigration status. It also bars them from being deputized as immigration agents. They can’t arrest people on civil immigration warrants. They can’t report illegal immigrants with misdemeanors. Only if the immigrants can be charged with felonies can law enforcement work with ICE.

ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan denounced it. “California politicians have chosen to prioritize politics over public safety,” he said. “Disturbingly, the legislation serves to codify a dangerous policy that deliberately obstructs our country’s immigration laws and shelters serious criminal alien offenders.” Attorney General Jeff Sessions calls the laws a “plain violation of common sense.” He says they violate the constitution.

California isn’t the first state to enact such a law. Oregon declared itself a sanctuary state in 1987. 

Legal Actions

The cities mentioned aren’t the only ones against the new law. California sheriffs generally oppose the law. Orange County Undersheriff Don Barnes stated, “When you start to legislate that we cannot cooperate or communicate with another law enforcement partner, that is problematic.” He went on: “We shouldn’t be mixing public safety with politics.”

The Orange County Sheriff found a work-around. It announced it would continue to notify ICE without breaking the law. Sheriff Sandra Hutchens began posting the names of inmates and their scheduled release dates. This includes illegal immigrants. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra disagreed with the legality of her actions. He threatened the sheriff’s office with arrest.

“We shouldn’t be mixing public safety with politics.”

Last month, the city of Alamitos said it is opting out of the law. It says the law “may be in direct conflict with federal laws and the Constitution.” The Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution says that where the federal government sets policy, the states may not set a contrary policy. This clause has been used by the courts in recent years to strike down state laws cracking down on illegal immigration. Warren Kusumoto, Mayor Pro Tem of the city, said, “I believe my grandparents did it the right way. They were able to immigrate, become naturalized eventually and citizens. Why is that not the right way for anybody to come over here as immigrants?”

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When the law first passed, Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, R-Templeton, criticized it. “In my view this bill’s going to make us less safe,” he said. “It’s going to protect the criminal at the expense of the law abiding citizen.” 

The Future

California already has sanctuary cities. Sessions announced last August that the government would withhold public safety grant money from them. A federal district court judge struck this down last fall.

The group Fight Sanctuary State has launched a ballot measure initiative for 2020. It would reverse the sanctuary city laws. It would require local law enforcement to tell ICE when they have an illegal immigrant in custody.

Meanwhile, the lawsuits slowly wind their way through the court system. A resolution isn’t yet in sight. The case may go all the way to the Supreme Court.


Follow Rachel on Twitter at Rach_IC.

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