California’s Orange County is preparing to follow in the footsteps of Los Alamitos by defying the state’s sanctuary policies and supporting the Trump administration’s emphasis on immigration enforcement.
Located in Orange County, Los Alamitos angered illegal immigrant activists when its city council voted last week to exempt itself from the state’s sanctuary policies that went into effect January 1 under SB-54.
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But now the leaders of the county as a whole are meeting Tuesday to decide whether it should challenge in court the state’s new laws protecting illegal immigrants from deportation and preventing local officials from cooperating fully with federal immigration enforcement officers.
“California has decided to poke the president and his administration in the eye. And I’d rather they just not involve us,” Orange County’s Fourth District Supervisor Shawn Nelson said Tuesday on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends.”
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“It is unconstitutional,” Nelson said of California’s sanctuary law. “I realize there are a lot of states that don’t care to live by certain rules in the federal government or the Constitution if they disagree with [them]. Last I checked, it’s not optional, even if you don’t like the outcome. And it puts our law enforcement personnel in a very awkward spot. They have to uphold the Constitution and the law. They swore to do that.”
Nelson said that Orange County will consider two proposals Tuesday: a resolution and the potential to join in litigation against the state.
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“One is just a resolution, which of course isn’t going to accomplish anything, but is sort of a statement,” Nelson said. “But the other action hopefully will be, when we go into closed session … to choose to join litigation brought by the Department of Justice to basically enjoin the state from holding our law enforcement officials to these laws.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions sued California earlier in March for laws defying the Trump administration’s immigration enforcement priorities.
David Ray, communications director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), told LifeZette that “It’s truly gratifying to see elected officials, sheriffs, and even regular citizens throughout the state who are choosing to voice their concerns and speak out against California’s rogue actions on immigration.”
“Honestly, common sense cannot yet be declared extinct in the state of California, it appears,” Ray said. “I think this is the tip of the iceberg. I think people who are speaking out now show great courage. But certainly they are on the right side of history.”
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department also began publishing inmates’ release information in an online database — including illegal immigrants’ information — Monday in an effort to help U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials track down illegal immigrants.
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“This is in response to SB-54 limiting our ability to communicate with federal authorities and our concern that criminals are being released to the street when there’s another avenue to safeguard the community by handing them over [to ICE for potential deportation],” Orange County Undersheriff Don Barnes said, according to The Orange County Register.
The department released 172 illegal immigrants back into the state from January 1 to March 19 without notifying ICE, spokeswoman Carrie Braun said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“This is a smart move by the sheriff,” Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), told LifeZette in an email. “Law enforcement agencies in California have been chafing under this new law, very concerned about having to release deportable criminals back to the street, where they often reoffend just like American criminals.”
“Publishing release dates of all inmates is a good transparency policy; for example, this policy can also allow neighborhood groups to get a heads up when child molesters, thieves, drug dealers, and other criminals are coming back to the community,” Vaughan added. “The California sanctuary law is foolish and dangerous, and it’s a shame that the sheriffs and others have to devise workarounds like this.”
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Vaughan noted that “it will be important for California voters to pay attention to how their local officials react to the state laws” and gauge whether their officials are “more interested in protecting the entire community or in protecting criminal aliens and this awful state law.”
Unsurprisingly, illegal immigrant advocates were not thrilled by the actions Orange County has taken to combat the sanctuary state laws.
“California can’t pick and choose which federal laws it will follow any more than Ohio could decide that it’s going to opt out of the federal minimum wage … “
“We definitely think it is wrong, and offensive as well, that these cities and the county are saying they would rather further the anti-immigrant agenda of the Trump administration than protect the rights of their own immigrant residents,” said Sameer Ahmed, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, according to the Associated Press.
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Ray said that California politicians who put “their open borders agenda ahead of the lives of everyday citizens in California” should be ashamed of themselves.
“And the elected officials in California have blood on their hands if they choose to snub their nose at U.S. immigration laws and release these convicted criminal aliens repeatedly back onto the streets,” Ray said.
“California can’t pick and choose which federal laws it will follow any more than Ohio could decide that it’s going to opt out of the federal minimum wage or that Oklahoma could decide that it’s not going to abide by federal environmental protections,” he said.
PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter.
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