The California Fourth District Court of Appeals in Santa Ana has ruled that charter cities and other atypically classified cities have to follow the California Values Act (CVA), commonly known as the ‘sanctuary city law’.
Under the CVA, which was passed as Senate Bill 54 in 2017, state and local police cannot aid federal immigration law enforcement except in instances of violent immigrant behavior.The law effectively set up Californian cities as ‘sanctuary cities’.
Several cities in California attempted to buck the new law, with Huntington Beach in Orange County claiming that they didn’t need to follow the CVA since they were a ‘charter city’. They argued that since they were a charter city, a city that is organized through a charter approved by voters rather than the laws of California, that they had greater jurisdiction in not enforcing the CVA as it was more of a city issue than a state issue.
In the lawsuit, Huntington Beach also claimed that the CVA was unconstitutional because it didn’t allow them to fully control their own police.
While an Orange County court ruled in favor of the city in 2018, the Fourth District Court of Appeals reversed the ruling. The court ruled that the CVA doesn’t disrupt any city interests unwarranted, nor do they disrupt most actions in regards to immigrants.
“The legislature narrowly tailored the CVA to address legitimate public safety and other statewide concerns and not to thwart the ability of state and local law enforcement to transfer dangerous felons to federal immigration officials,” said the court in it’s ruling. “The CVA does not prohibit all local law enforcement activity related to immigration or a person’s immigration status, but only prohibits such activity to the extent necessary to resolve the statewide concerns identified by the legislature.”
Many immigrant groups, as well as California lawmakers such as California Attorney General Xavier Becerra approved of the ruling.
“It’s one less thing many citizens have to worry about,” noted immigrant activist Raul Ochoa. “ICE has been locking people up, children away from their parents. Many legal citizens are being harassed simply because they’re Hispanic. [The] CVA is a good law to have so no decision regarding anyone is done rashly.”
Many Huntington Beach citizens, as well as many other residents of other charter cities hoping for no appeal, were chagrined at the courts ruling.
“It’s like what we voted on doesn’t even matter,” said Huntington Beach resident and local ruling supporter Wendy Roth. “We didn’t want it, but they forced it anyway.”
The ruling, which follows a similar attempted strike down of the CVA by the Trump Administration that was ultimately ruled in California’s favor by the US Court of Appeals Ninth Circuit in 2019, may not stand for long. Huntington Beach City Attorney Michael Gates is currently in discussions with the city about bringing the case to the California Supreme Court.
An announcement over Huntington Beach’s decision is expected soon.