Current State of California Sanctuary City Policies: April 2018
Updated: Aug 24, 2020
(Written in conjunction with Krischan Jung)
As early as the week of April 15, 2018, the State of California has received federal consequences against the state’s sanctuary city policies. The specific policy of interest is Senate Bill 54, which makes California a sanctuary state. The term “sanctuary city” is used to describe cities that limit their cooperation with federal immigration agencies in enforcing immigration law. The parties involved include the United States Department of Justice, along with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the federal government, the California government, and many California city councils.
The United States Department of Justice, along with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has filed a lawsuit to oppose the State’s policies. According to the Trump administration, the lawsuit was created due to the sanctuary laws being unconstitutional by directly conflicting with federal mandates, as well as claims that sanctuary cities are a benefactor of driving up crime rates by allowing illegal immigrants to reside in said cities. The federal government stated that it instead wanted to concentrate its efforts in helping legal immigrants in the U.S. Sessions believes that the sanctuary laws allow illegal immigrants to unfairly cause a strain on city resources by taking advantage of public services and welfare programs.
The Department of Justice recently informed the cities of San Bernardino, Stockton, Baltimore, and Albuquerque that they would withdraw law enforcement help if they were not compliant in helping federal agents reach inmates who are suspected of entering the country illegally. San Bernardino’s Police Chief Jarrod Burguan expressed confusion to the notice, as San Bernardino is not a sanctuary city. The Department of Justice has not yet acted upon withdrawing their support from the cities at the moment.
The California government believes that their policies are in the best interest of California residents, as the policies would protect citizens from raids in hospitals, churches, courthouses, and schools. Governor Jerry Brown stated that he believed the policies were not unconstitutional, as they did not directly interfere with federal immigration agencies or prevent agents from doing their jobs. However, alongside federal pushback, California counties have also provided backlash towards the state’s policies.
The following cities are the ones as of now providing backlash towards state policies: Los Alamitos, Hesperia, Mission Viejo, Huntington Beach, Escondido, Fountain Valley, Aliso Viejo, Orange County, Newport Beach, Westminster, San Juan Capistrano, and San Diego. These cities have held multiple city council votes over the past few weeks (at max 1 opposition and at max 6 for) to provide support towards the lawsuit being placed on the California Government. The counties in California that have opposed the state policies have done so because they believe that the state policies will obstruct law enforcement in maintaining the safety of the community. The counties also believe that the policies are unconstitutional.