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San Diego County Board Of Supervisors Votes To Support Trump ‘Sanctuary’ State Lawsuit

The County Board of Supervisors hold a meeting, April 17, 2018.
Jean Guerrero
The County Board of Supervisors hold a meeting, April 17, 2018.

UPDATE: 5:43 p.m., April 17, 2018

San Diego County Board Of Supervisors Votes To Support Trump ‘Sanctuary’ State Lawsuit
San Diego County Board Of Supervisors Votes To Support Trump ‘Sanctuary’ State Lawsuit GUEST:Jean Guerrero, fronteras reporter, KPBS News

>> The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday, to support the Trump administration lawsuit against California sanctuary state laws. The action will allow the board to file a friend of the court brief that the first available opportunity. The window for amicus briefs has closed. But, maybe open if the lawsuit is appealed. The largely symbolic vote was preceded by nearly an hour of public testimony, K PBS Jean Guerrero attended yesterday's meeting and joins us now. >> Thanks for having me. >> What was the mood like during the public testimony? >> There were a lot of people there. A lot of them had come from out-of-town places like LA, even Las Vegas. Most of them were against the lawsuit but 12 were in favor of joining the Trump lawsuit. There was a lot of emotion. People holding up signs, a lot of very large size, and groans, while people are getting out there testimony, and a lot of strongly which used on both sides. People who were against joining accusing others on the Board of Supervisors of doing this to advance their political careers, and doing it to the media spotlight. People in favor of joining the lawsuit were using words like invasions, and epidemics. In reference to people who are here illegally. >> Were most of the people who identified themselves out-of-town, were they in support of joining the trumpet ministration lawsuit? >> That is right. A lot of the people were a part of the 12 who were in favor of joining the Trump lawsuit. >> How did each of the supervisors vote, and why only four votes? >> There were only four votes because Ron Roberts was out of town so he was absent. Kristin, Diane, and Bill voted in favor. Saying that San Diego County was safer before sanctuary loss. The laws limit cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration officials, which they say results and ultimately fewer deportations of immigrants who commit crimes. Greg was the one who voted against joining the lawsuit, calling it a waste of taxpayer dollars. And saying it will actually make the community less safe by discouraging immigrants from reporting crimes and discouraging witnesses from coming forward. >> Is the deadline to file has passed, did the supervisor give an explanation as to why the county was moving forward with it anyway? >> Yes, she said it was almost 100% certain that there would be an appeal of whatever decision is made. That which point the county could take action. >> What has been the reaction to those folks so far? >> Many immigrant groups and officials have come out saying that they are disappointed in the decision, that it is not representative of San Diego. Tony said that the action was misguided, and that the bills in question make the area safer by encouraging immigrants to come out of the shadows, and not fear police, and crimes. >> Earlier today we spoke with [ Inaudible ] here is her reactions. >> Where they stand on the issue, a message that they are standing with the administration, and with this Trump administration, and not with the rest of California. That they are trying to resist the changes that are happening in our state. And that they are not trying to send a message that, certain individuals are not welcome into our community. That certain individuals are less important. >> Remind us of the legal arguments being made. >> Essentially the Trump administration says that these laws are unconstitutional. They say that the laws limit the federal government's ability to do its job. By enforcing immigration laws. Precisely because they limit the cooperation between local law enforcement and the federal government. >> That was Lillian Serrano of the immigration rights. >> That is one of the things that is being said on Twitter right now, and among people who support sanctuary law, Kristin Gaspar is a candidate for the 49th Congressional District and some of the people who support sanctuary loss say they plan to vote against her for this decision and to come out in large numbers. Of course many others are glad that she voided this way and are expressing plans to support her. >> Do you suspect we will continue to hear about other cities joining the lawsuit or exempting themselves from these laws? >> It's possible. We have already hard from about one dozen different places in California. It wouldn't be surprising. Although the fact that the deadline for the amicus brief has passed, makes it less likely. I do think that it is possible we hear from more places. >> I have been speaking with Jean Guerrero, thank you. >> Think you. >> -- Thank you.

The county Board of Supervisors Tuesday voted to file a court brief siding with the federal government in its lawsuit against California's so-called sanctuary state law.

With the vote, San Diego County became California's most populous county to rebuke state policies aimed at protect select immigrants from deportation. The sanctuary state law, SB 54, limits cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities.

San Diego County's approach differs from that of the Orange County supervisors, who voted last month to join the suit. Instead, the San Diego County attorney will draft an amicus brief in support of the case, which will allow officials to offer their opinion without actually becoming involved in the courtroom fight.

However, the deadline to file such a brief has passed, meaning the earliest opportunity San Diego County will have to weigh in on the case will be if and when a decision in this case is appealed by the losing party to a higher court.

"Public safety is our number one priority," Supervisor Kristin Gaspar said. "Here in San Diego it's important to note how our law enforcement's hands are being tied by SB 54."

Supervisor Dianne Jacob said she has seen a lot of changes along the 50-mile span of the U.S.-Mexico border in her district since she took office in the 1990s.

"We used to have people coming across our border who just wanted to work," she said. "That has changed over the years. It's changed to the extent where we have people on the terrorist watch list coming across the border."

She later clarified "she was told" of at least one person on a terrorist watch list crossing into the U.S. illegally but was unable to provide details of the case and did not specify who provided her with that information.

RELATED: Local Officials Urge County To Join Challenge Of Sanctuary Law

Under SB 54, state and local law enforcement are allowed to share with immigration authorities information about a person who has been charged with one of 800 crimes, including violent felonies, arson, domestic abuse and other felonies.

Supervisor Greg Cox was the lone dissenter in the 3-1 vote. Supervisor Ron Roberts was absent but said his colleagues should "stay out of it."

As evidence of the support among San Diegans for joining the lawsuit, Gaspar showed reporters the correspondence the supervisors received on the matter. Letters in favor of the county siding with the federal government towered over those written by those who supported sanctuary policies, she said.

But during Tuesday's public meeting, sanctuary state advocates outnumbered supporters of the lawsuit: 12 registered their support of President Donald Trump's administration and 40 were against it, according to Gaspar.

"The California Values Act (SB 54) does indeed exemplify the values of California," the Rev. Beth Johnson of Palomar Unitarian Universalist Fellowship told the supervisors. "It makes our communities safer by allowing law enforcement to do their jobs by making community members feel safe to report crimes."

San Diego County Board Of Supervisors Votes To Support Trump ‘Sanctuary’ State Lawsuit

RELATED: Opposition To Immigrant Sanctuary Spreading In California

Other supporters of the sanctuary law said it offers protections for immigrant families and helps keep the economy strong by recognizing the contributions of non-citizens, including their payment of taxes and their labor.

The threat of deportation causes negative mental health effects on immigrants and their families, said Janet Farrell of the San Diego Psychological Association.

"Deportation causes the breakup of families," she said. "The California sanctuary laws give some protection to the breakup of our immigrant families without compromising the safety of the general population."

Local governments in recent weeks have taken varying approaches to weighing in on the sanctuary state issue, from adopting resolutions to voting to file lawsuits themselves.

The city council in San Juan Capistrano, for instance, recently passed a resolution against SB 54. Resolutions are largely symbolic statements of a government's stance.

RELATED: California City Approves Sanctuary Law Exemption 4-1

Aliso Viejo, Escondido and Mission Viejo are among the cities whose leaders have voted to file amicus briefs in support of the Trump administration's position. Such briefs are often submitted by those who have an interest in a court case but are not parties in the lawsuit.

The Orange County Board of Supervisors voted last month to join the lawsuit, while the Huntington Beach City Council voted recently to file its own suit.

The Los Alamitos City Council voted on Monday night to "exempt" the city from the sanctuary law.

National attention turned to San Diego County as its leaders considered weighing in on the lawsuit.

The decision is likely to be a defining moment in the political career of Gaspar, who is running in a closely watched congressional race in a district that Democrat Hillary Clinton carried in the 2016 presidential election with just over 50 percent of the vote.

The Republican incumbent in the 49th District, Rep. Darrell Issa of Vista, is not seeking reelection. In 2016, he narrowly defeated Democrat Doug Applegate, who is among the candidates facing off against Gaspar in the June primary.

In a statement opposed to the county's decision, State Senator Toni Atkins , D-San Diego, said the following:

“I’m disappointed in the Board majority for taking this misguided action. These bills were carefully crafted to be legal and constitutional, and to protect public safety. SB 54 does not shield violent and dangerous criminals from deportation, and it does not prevent federal immigration authorities from doing their job. We’ve worked hard to bring our undocumented immigrant communities out of the shadows and into society because research shows it makes our state safer and more prosperous for all. I firmly believe California is on the right side of history and I stand by our commitment to these laws.”

San Diego County Board Of Supervisors Votes To Support Trump ‘Sanctuary’ State Lawsuit
With the vote, San Diego County became California's most populous county to rebuke state policies aimed at protect select immigrants from deportation.

>> The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday, to support the Trump administration lawsuit against California sanctuary state laws. The action will allow the board to file a friend of the court brief that the first available opportunity. The window for amicus briefs has closed. But, maybe open if the lawsuit is appealed. The largely symbolic vote was preceded by nearly an hour of public testimony, K PBS Jean Guerrero attended yesterday's meeting and joins us now. >> Thanks for having me. >> What was the mood like during the public testimony? >> There were a lot of people there. A lot of them had come from out-of-town places like LA, even Las Vegas. Most of them were against the lawsuit but 12 were in favor of joining the Trump lawsuit. There was a lot of emotion. People holding up signs, a lot of very large size, and groans, while people are getting out there testimony, and a lot of strongly which used on both sides. People who were against joining accusing others on the Board of Supervisors of doing this to advance their political careers, and doing it to the media spotlight. People in favor of joining the lawsuit were using words like invasions, and epidemics. In reference to people who are here illegally. >> Were most of the people who identified themselves out-of-town, were they in support of joining the trumpet ministration lawsuit? >> That is right. A lot of the people were a part of the 12 who were in favor of joining the Trump lawsuit. >> How did each of the supervisors vote, and why only four votes? >> There were only four votes because Ron Roberts was out of town so he was absent. Kristin, Diane, and Bill voted in favor. Saying that San Diego County was safer before sanctuary loss. The laws limit cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration officials, which they say results and ultimately fewer deportations of immigrants who commit crimes. Greg was the one who voted against joining the lawsuit, calling it a waste of taxpayer dollars. And saying it will actually make the community less safe by discouraging immigrants from reporting crimes and discouraging witnesses from coming forward. >> Is the deadline to file has passed, did the supervisor give an explanation as to why the county was moving forward with it anyway? >> Yes, she said it was almost 100% certain that there would be an appeal of whatever decision is made. That which point the county could take action. >> What has been the reaction to those folks so far? >> Many immigrant groups and officials have come out saying that they are disappointed in the decision, that it is not representative of San Diego. Tony said that the action was misguided, and that the bills in question make the area safer by encouraging immigrants to come out of the shadows, and not fear police, and crimes. >> Earlier today we spoke with [ Inaudible ] here is her reactions. >> Where they stand on the issue, a message that they are standing with the administration, and with this Trump administration, and not with the rest of California. That they are trying to resist the changes that are happening in our state. And that they are not trying to send a message that, certain individuals are not welcome into our community. That certain individuals are less important. >> Remind us of the legal arguments being made. >> Essentially the Trump administration says that these laws are unconstitutional. They say that the laws limit the federal government's ability to do its job. By enforcing immigration laws. Precisely because they limit the cooperation between local law enforcement and the federal government. >> That was Lillian Serrano of the immigration rights.

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