Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Injustice

Local Officials Urge County To Join Challenge Of Sanctuary Law

Escondido mayor Sam Abed speaks out against California sanctuary law, April 1...

Photo by Jean Guerrero

Above: Escondido mayor Sam Abed speaks out against California sanctuary law, April 16, 2018.

UPDATE: 3:30 p.m., April 16, 2018

Local Officials Urge County To Join Challenge Of Sanctuary Law


Jean Guerrero, fronteras reporter, KPBS News


Elected officials and local residents urged the San Diego County Board of Supervisors Monday to join the federal government's lawsuit challenging California's sanctuary state law.

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.

Original story

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.

RELATED: Rally Against Supervisor’s Meeting To Discuss Lawsuit Against California’s ‘Sanctuary’ Laws

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."

RELATED: San Diego Church Offers Sanctuary To Immigrants Facing Deportation

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.


San Diego News Now podcast branding

San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Midday Edition banner

KPBS Midday Edition is a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.