Local Officials Urge County To Join Challenge Of Sanctuary Law
UPDATE: 3:30 p.m., April 16, 2018
>> This is KPBS Mid-day edition I am Maureen Cavanaugh. Here they are publishing -- Hearing public comment about sanctuary state laws. Supervisors proposed the board votes on possible support for the Trump administration's lawsuit against California. A vote to support the lawsuit has already been approved by the Orange County Board of Supervisors. K PBS frontier reporter is here. Have many people showing up for this public comment session and what are people saying? >> Yes, there were dozens of people lining up to get into the building, there is a rally this morning prior to the Board of Supervisors meeting, there have been 52 request to speak and we have heard from 12 who were in favor of joining the lawsuit in some way. There were 40 opposition speakers who are currently underway giving their comments. When we heard from the people who are in favor of joining the lawsuit the fact of the matter is this is an issue of public safety. They believe that the sanctuary policies make the county less safe and they want to allow law enforcement to continue to cooperate with federal administration. People who are against the lawsuit were saying that without century laws there saying that immigrants are afraid to report crimes. They also talked about this being a moral issue, they called the law and said it was against the values by tearing apart families. >> We have two sample comments from today's public comment session. They are. >> I came here today to ask you to oppose this and join with the other Southern California cities. Please oppose San Diego as a sanctuary city. Make our beautiful city coincide with the federal laws. >> If you join this lawsuit what would happen is you would jeopardize our public safety. The community members of the eyes and ears of the police department. We are an invaluable resource and went we are fearful of contacting our law enforcement because of the fear to be deported or detained, that will hurt our law enforcement and jeopardize our public safety. >> Gene, -- here they joined the lawsuit, but the deadline has passed, what kind of's -- of support can they give? >> They cannot join the lawsuit like Orange County, they do have the option to file their own lawsuit like Huntington Beach did and pass an ordinance through city Council to opt out of sanctuary laws like others did. There are variety of options to take at this point. >> I think it is important to note that there are three century laws that are in question, this one limits how much law enforcement can be in touch with federal immigration officials, another that has to do with workplace inspections by immigration officials, basically California wants the workplace sections to require a judicial warrants. There's an issue of these issues as well. The Trump administration lawsuit targets all of those laws seeing their unconstitutional. >> Houses vote scheduled to take place? >> It is behind closed doors. After the public comment period ends, the Board of Supervisors will have a closed session and they are anticipated to have a press conference at 4 PM to announce their decision. >> Will we know who voted in support and who did not? >> We will not know, but Kristen Gaspar mentioned that they are having a closed session so that this involves litigation and it is their policy to discuss it behind closed doors. >> They will be announcing the book later is that right? >> Yes. They will be having a press conference at 4 PM in which they will announce their decision as to whether they decide to take any action to join the lawsuit through any kind of ordinance. We do not know what decision they might take, but they will announce whether or not to join in the lawsuit. >> I've been speaking with reporter Jean Guerrero. Thank you very much.
Some San Diego County politicians and residents are urging the County Board of Supervisors to join the lawsuit against the state of California's sanctuary law, saying it hurts public safety.
“Sanctuary state and sanctuary city policies are about providing benefit to only one group: hardened criminals," said former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio, adding that the policies "drive a wedge" between local and federal law enforcement officials.
The sanctuary law does not limit cooperation with federal immigration officials for the most serious crimes, such as felonies and violent crimes. About 800 crimes are exempted from protection under the law.
But Escondido mayor Sam Abed said the sanctuary law is harming immigrants and non-immigrants alike. He said it has pushed federal immigration officials out of the local jail — where they were working with police — and into the community.
“The eight ICE agents (who were in the jail) are no longer cooperating with our police," Abed said. "They are in our neighborhood picking up Dreamers, picking up immigrants with no criminal record and separating families. Wake up Sacramento, and have the moral courage to say this is not good for the immigrant.”
The speakers invited local mother Ingrid Lake to the podium. She said an immigrant who is here illegally injured her son in a car crash, but that because the immigrant was only charged with a misdemeanor, police won't necessarily hand him over to federal immigration officials for deportation if he is arrested again.
“The sanctuary state law in its current form would shield him from being turned over to immigration officials," Lake said.
Supporters of the law said it makes communities safer by encouraging immigrant communities to report crimes. Before the sanctuary law, many immigrants feared coming into contact with police. Rallies urging the supervisors not to join the Trump lawsuit have also been held in the county.
Elected officials, including Escondido Mayor Sam Abed and San Marcos Mayor Jim Desmond, and a group of residents will urge the San Diego County Board of Supervisors Monday to join the federal government's lawsuit challenging California's sanctuary state law.
The bill, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in October, limits cooperation between California law enforcement and federal immigration authorities. It prohibits local agencies from holding some immigrants on the basis of federal detainers, asking about immigration status or sharing information with federal authorities not available to the public, among other provisions.
Opponents believe the law obstructs the deportation of criminals by federal authorities.
"The sanctuary state law is not only unconstitutional, but it is a real threat to public safety because it forces local government to harbor and shield violent criminals," former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio said. "It is imperative that San Diego voters contact the five members of the Board of Supervisors before the vote tomorrow (Tuesday) to urge them to sign on to the lawsuit against the sanctuary city law."
The news conference will be held 11 a.m. at the park behind iHeartMedia, 9660 Granite Ridge Drive.
Proponents of the bill, including the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, believe it makes communities safer and allows local enforcement to focus on their jobs. Supporters say it makes immigrants living in the country illegally more likely to report crimes — such as domestic violence — without fear of being detained by federal authorities.
Supervisors Dianne Jacob and Kristin Gasper have both indicated in Fox News interviews they support joining the lawsuit against SB-54.
"This is a politically super-charged issue as you might imagine," Gaspar, a candidate for Congress, told Fox News. "We're talking about hundreds of emails pouring in from all sides. But let us not forget, let's take the emotion out of this. We're talking about following the constitutional laws of our land."
The Board of Supervisors will discuss the issue in closed session Tuesday.
A group of San Diego business, law enforcement, philanthropic, environmental, faith and social justice figures will hold their own news conference Tuesday urging the board not to join the lawsuit. The county board is expected to vote on whether to join the suit that day. That event is set for 10 a.m. at the San Diego County Administration Center, Waterfront Park, 1600 Pacific Highway.