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Judge Rules For City, Against California’s ‘Sanctuary State’ Law

A superior court judge determined that the "sanctuary" law does not apply in the charter city of Huntington Beach.

Huntington Beach, CA – An Orange County Superior Court judge has ruled that California’s “sanctuary state” law cannot be forced upon the charter city of Huntington Beach.

Superior Court Judge James Crandall determined on Thursday that, as a charter city, Huntington Beach has a greater degree of autonomy with regards to how the municipality operates, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“Becoming a charter city allows voters to determine how their city government is organized and, with respect to municipal affairs, enact legislation different than that adopted by the state,” the League of California Cities explained on its website.

The California Values Act, known as the “sanctuary state law” or Senate Bill 54, was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in October of 2017.

Officially implemented on Jan. 1, the law “bars law enforcement officers from arresting individuals based on civil immigration warrants, asking about a person’s immigration status, or participating in any joint task force with federal officials for the purpose of enforcing immigration laws,” The Political Insider reported.

California State Attorney General Xavier Becerra has also warned California employers that they would be prosecuted if they provided any information about their employees to federal immigration authorities.

The law has created a roadblock for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, who have been left to apprehend illegal aliens without the assistance of local jail officials or law enforcement agencies, CNBC reported.

Huntington Beach filed the complaint in April, and argued that under the State Constitution, charter cities have independence and autonomy over certain laws, including their police departments and how to allocate local resources, according to CNBC.

“The operation of a police department and its jail is a city affair,” Crandall said during the hearing, according to the Los Angeles Times. “For the state to say one size fits all for policing isn’t going to fit everybody.”

He said that SB 54 had infringed on the local government’s authority to allocate resources and develop policies according to the specific community’s needs.

Crandall further noted that he preferred to rely on the recommendations and views of local law enforcement officers regarding how the law had impacted the city as opposed to those of a law professor who was not as familiar with the area.

The ruling also applies to 120 other charter cities in the state, including large municipalities such as Los Angeles and San Diego, Huntington Beach City Attorney Michael Gates told KTLA.

“It violated charter cities’ charter authority,” Gates explained. “Telling our local police what they should be doing, or need to be doing, or not to do as relates to their work in the field by the state is a tremendous overreach.”

Attorney Fred Whitaker, who is also the Orange County Republican Party chairman, said the ruling was “a good victory for the 121 charter cities,” CNBC reported.

“I think it also helps the case of the many general law cities that also have taken a stand in opposition to SB 54,” Whitaker added.

But American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California staff attorney Sameer Ahmed said he believes the judge’s ruling applies only to the city of Huntington Beach.

“I don’t think this ruling will have, or should have, a very large effect on the applicability of the law going forward,” Ahmed told KTLA.

Becerra said Crandall’s ruling “undermined” the state’s law, and that he planned to file an appeal.

“Preserving the safety and constitutional rights of all our people is a statewide imperative which cannot be undermined by contrary local rules,” he told KTLA.

In May, President Donald Trump met with local California officials who opposed SB 54.

He praised them for “bravely resisting” the state’s “deadly and unconstitutional” law – a law he said had created a “safe harbor to some of the most vicious and violent offenders on earth,” CNBC reported.

Despite Thursday’s ruling, the Huntington Beach Police Department said it would not begin “conducting immigration enforcement in our community,” KTLA reported.

“There are times when immigration matters become important to ensuring the safety of our community, but our focus will continue to be overall public safety,” the department said, according to the news outlet.

Holly Matkin - September Fri, 2018


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