Huntington Beach Challenges the Legality of Sanctuary Bill

California city goes one step beyond other municipalities, counties in Golden State that are rising up against Sacramento's rogue immigration policies

The most populous city in Orange County, California, has taken a big stand against illegal immigration.

On Wednesday, Huntington Beach sued the state — and sued Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Xavier Becerra as well — over the California law that prevents the local police from alerting federal law enforcement when immigrants who are subject to deportation are about to be released from custody.

Earlier this week, the Huntington Beach City Council voted 6-1 to take legal action against the Golden State over Senate Bill 54. The “sanctuary law” limits cooperation between federal immigration authorities and local law enforcement.

In March, Los Alamitos, a much smaller city in Orange County, voted to exempt itself from SB 54 — but Huntington Beach now has taken this one step further. It’s the first city in the state to sue.

Seems the state’s legal woes over illegal immigration just keep growing.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is also suing California. And last month, the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted to join the Trump administration lawsuit. Mission Viejo and Yorba Linda — also cities in Orange County — are supporting the federal government in its lawsuit, and other city leaders have said they’re looking at such moves, according to The Orange County Register.

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In the wake of the city council’s vote, LifeZette reached out to the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) for perspective on what this means for California and beyond.

“Huntington Beach joins the list of other cities and counties throughout the state that have risen up against Sacramento’s rogue immigration policies,” said David Ray, director of communications at FAIR, based in Washington, D.C. “These elected officials understand that sanctuary laws not only serve as magnets to illegal immigration, but also threaten public safety.”

Related: ICE Faces Fair Suit Over Access to Immigration Hold Requests

“The growing opposition to California’s dangerous sanctuary laws is also a clear recognition that city officials in Huntington Beach and elsewhere understand that federal immigration laws trump local laws,” added Ray. “Their primary duty is to protect the public and uphold the U.S. Constitution — a vow many of them swore when taking office. California does not have the right to decide which federal laws it will choose to obey and which ones it will choose to ignore.”

California politicians such as Gov. Jerry Brown, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi endlessly cheerlead on behalf of illegal immigrants and sanctuary cities. But Ray is clear on why sanctuary policies harm society.

“Sanctuary policies invite lawlessness, gang violence and crime. They are not in the best interest of the American public.”

“The federal government is taking strong steps against dangerous sanctuary policies, and state and local communities should be encouraged to join the efforts. Sanctuary policies invite lawlessness, gang violence and crime. They are not in the best interest of the American public, are a clear violation of federal law, and need to be stopped dead in their tracks,” he told LifeZette.

Whether or not other cities follow Huntington Beach’s lead remains to be seen.

Related: Hunterdon ‘Is Not Going to Be a Sanctuary County as Long as I’m Sheriff’

“There is a growing backlash in California against the state’s refusal to abide by federal law and cooperate with federal immigration officials. Sanctuary laws not only violate common sense but also clearly threaten public safety,” said Ray.

“Those who are in the country illegally and then go on to commit a crime should be removed from the United States. Period. They shouldn’t be released back onto the streets, as is currently happening,” said Ray, noting a grim statistic by Thomas Homan, acting ICE director. Homan said that 10,000 criminal aliens released back onto the streets recently by dangerous sanctuary policies have recommitted crimes.

“This is an outrage, and those crimes were completely preventable,” he said.

Elizabeth Economou is a former CNBC staff writer and adjunct professor. Follow her on Twitter.

(photo credit, homepage image: Huntington Beach CA USA, CC BY-SA 3.0, by Toksave; photo credit, article image: North Huntington Beach CACC BY-SA 3.0, by Don Ramey Logan)

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