US immigration

California county votes to fighting state immigrant sanctuary law

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 March, 2018, 1:43am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 March, 2018, 6:56am

The Orange County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to move against the state’s “sanctuary” laws, adding a powerful voice to a growing backlash in some conservative parts of California to the state’s pro-immigration policies. 

The board voted 3-0 to join a federal lawsuit against California’s sanctuary laws. 

SB 54, which Gov. Jerry Brown signed after the Legislature passed it last year, prohibits state and local police agencies from notifying federal officials in many cases when immigrants potentially subject to deportation are about to be released from custody. 

“This legislation prevents law enforcement from removing criminals from our community and is a threat to public safety,” said Supervisor Shawn Nelson before the vote.

The Trump administration went to federal court to invalidate the state laws, contending they blatantly obstruct federal immigration law and thus violate the Constitution’s supremacy clause, which gives federal law precedence over state measures. That case is pending. 

Nelson has proposed joining the lawsuit or filing a new one.

Other cities in the county, including Yorba Linda, Buena Park, Huntington Beach and Mission Viejo, are also starting to take action to voice their grievances against the state’s sanctuary laws. 

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State Senator Kevin de Leon, who wrote SB 54, warned cities going against the state’s sanctuary laws. 

“Pushing a racist and anti-immigrant agenda devoid of facts or supporting legal analysis is a pretty sad use of taxpayer resources, especially when it could result in crippling legal costs for cities that rush to join this dead-end effort,” he said in a written statement. 

Foes of illegal immigration hailed the board’s vote. 

It’s about time we had more bodies like this one standing up to lawlessness of the California state Legislature,” Arthur Christopher Schaper. “Steps like this will ensure that American lives will matter once again.” 

Raul Rodriguez Jnr, an anti-illegal immigration activist from Apple Valley, praised the supervisors. 

“The sanctuary state of California is unconstitutional,” he said. “We need to get rid of the politicians in Sacramento who are not following the Constitution of the United States,” he told them during public comments. 

But others criticised the move. 

“There is a fear of this progressive wave suddenly taking over Orange County,” Roberto Herrera, a community engagement coordinator for Resilience OC, a Santa Ana-based community group that advocates for immigrant rights.

“The political conservative elite are scapegoating and creating false archetypes of undocumented immigrant in Orange County. They are using this fear to push their own campaigns forward.” 

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Orange County gave birth to Proposition 187, a ballot initiative approved by voters that sought to deny public services such as public schooling and health care to people in the country illegally; the measure was eventually struck down in the courts.

And Costa Mesa passed anti-day labourer ordinances and became the epicentre of the anti-illegal immigration movement during the mid-2000s. 

Since then, however, much of the county’s anti-illegal immigration fervour has eased after many of its cities experienced an influx of Latino and Asian immigrants. 

But the anti-sanctuary momentum gaining ground in Orange County shows that it remains a place with a very conservative core.