The anti-sanctuary movement is gaining momentum.
On Thursday, three days after Los Alamitos made national news by launching a city ordinance to defy California’s so-called sanctuary law, two Orange County supervisors plan to introduce measures that range from a county resolution similar in spirit to the ordinance passed in Los Alamitos, to filing a lawsuit against the state.
Meanwhile, Los Alamitos Mayor Troy Edgar has created a GoFundMe page to help his city pay legal expenses that figure to come when the city is sued by pro-immigrant and civil-rights groups. Edgar hopes his page, called “Mayor Edgar’s — Stop Sanctuary Law,” will raise $100,000.
“We’re getting an outpouring of support from across the country and the nation. People are offering to help with legal costs for little Los Alamitos,” said Edgar, who said he has received more than 5,000 emails since the council’s 4-1 vote Monday night to exempt the city from a state law that protects immigrants living illegally in the country.
On the Orange County Board of Supervisors, Shawn Nelson said he’ll ask his colleagues next week to consider either joining a U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit, which was filed against California earlier this month, or to initiate separate legal action.
Nelson pointed to two new California laws he criticized as pre-empting federal law. The one targeted by Los Alamitos, SB-54, dubbed the California Values Act, limits cooperation between local and state officials with federal immigration authorities. The second, AB-103, gives California authority to inspect federal detention facilities. Orange County is home to two jails that house people on immigration detention: Theo Lacey and James A. Musick.
Orange County is “uniquely affected” by those laws, Nelson said Thursday.
“It is completely improper for the state to demand for law enforcement to not work with authorities who have jurisdiction on this issue,” said Nelson.
The California Value Act includes provisions that limit who can be detained, questioned or investigated at the request of federal immigration agents. Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens has voiced strong opposition to it.
Nelson said he took a look at the federal lawsuit by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and introduced his proposal after fellow Supervisor Michelle Steel added a proposed resolution to the board’s agenda.
Steel’s resolution states that “it is impossible to honor our oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States” and be simultaneously in compliance with California laws.
A similar argument was raised by Los Alamitos Councilman Warren Kusumoto, who introduced the ordinance in his town. An overflow crowd of more than 150 people from Los Alamitos, Long Beach and other surrounding communities lined up for a two-hour divisive hearing Monday, punctuated by chants and cries from the audience listening to the meeting while standing outside City Hall.
Before the vote was taken in Los Alamitos, a representative with the ACLU of Southern California warned the council that such an ordinance opened the city up to a lawsuit.
- Anti-sanctuary push could spread far beyond Orange County city
- Los Alamitos votes to opt out of California sanctuary law
Another immigrant rights advocate, Angela Chan, policy director for Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco, said Thursday that a large, “very well-organized” coalition of pro-immigrant groups “will focus much of its energy on (Los Alamitos),” should council members give final approval to the ordinance on April 16.
Los Alamitos Mayor Edgar said he’s not concerned about the threat.
While he awaits an OK from the city attorney to launch the GoFundMe page, Edgar said his city is poised to send an amicus brief in support of the Trump administration lawsuit against California before a deadline on Monday.
Leaders in Yorba Linda also voted this week to send a supporting amicus brief.
“It’s kind of a little unusual that we would do that kind of thing,” Yorba Linda Mayor Gene Hernandez said at his council meeting on Tuesday. But he described the move as “necessary,” because the state’s new laws have “gone so far afield; (there’s) a total disdain for (federal) law.”
Yorba Linda’s move was spurred by a request from a group called the Immigration Reform Law Institute, which is affiliated with the Federation for American Immigration Reform, an anti-illegal immigration organization.
“We’re lining up cities to join us with amicus briefs,” said Christopher Hajec, the organization’s director of litigation.
Other Orange County cities where officials are considering taking some action to express their displeasure with Sacramento’s liberal stance on immigration include Buena Park, Huntington Beach, Aliso Viejo and Fountain Valley.
The greater the number of cities coalescing, the better for Los Alamitos, Edgar said.
“It makes it a bigger target that the state and the ACLU have to go after. We need to get more cities and counties aboard,” he said.
A handful of California cities previously adopted resolutions against state’s sanctuary policies, but Los Alamitos is believed to be the first to adopt an ordinance that looks to exempt itself from following the state’s immigration laws.
Other cities, including Santa Ana and Los Angeles, have passed resolutions supporting immigrant protections.
California is the nation’s leader in the sanctuary movement, which varies from location to location and has different meanings. In general, the term refers to limits — though not bans — on cooperation between local law enforcement and agents with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Sameer Ahmed, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Southern California, called the various efforts underway “offensive.”
“They are saying they care more about helping the Trump administration then protecting the rights of Orange County’s immigrant community.”
This story has been updated to note the GoFundMe page for Los Alamitos went live late Thursday night.