An Orange County Superior Court judge has ruled that California’s “sanctuary state” protections for undocumented immigrants infringe on Huntington Beach’s local control as a charter city, making Huntington the first city to successfully challenge the controversial law.
Last year, State Senator leader Kevin de León authored SB 54 which effectively made California a “sanctuary state” by legalizing and standardizing statewide non-cooperation policies between California law enforcement agencies and federal immigration authorities. In essence, the bill prohibits state and local law enforcement from holding illegal aliens on the basis of federal immigration detainers, or transferring them into federal custody. This bill was signed by Governor Jerry Brown last October.
Despite the law, this week Judge James Crandall agreed with Huntington Beach City Attorney Michael Gates as he argued that the law is unconstitutional as it applies to charter cities. The judge acknowledged that charter cites are run by charters adopted by local voters and that they are exempt from complying with sate-wide orders.
In his presiding argument, Judge Crandall wrote that, “The operation of a police department and its jail is a city affair… For the state to say one size fits all for policing isn’t going to fit everybody.”
According to the LA Times, California Deputy Attorney General Jonathan Eisenberg contended municipalities exercising their forms of autonomy arguing “there is an “important need” for a “uniform” public safety law. He referred to comments included in his briefing in which a law professor suggested that if police officials lose the trust of immigrant communities, people in those areas would avoid police and stop reporting crime, possibly resulting in an increase in crime.”
The ruling not only makes Huntington Beach exempt from complying with SB54, but all of California’s other 121 charter cities as well.