California Sanctuary Law Receives a Setback

One of the centerpiece laws for the state of California’s attempts to protect undocumented immigrants received a setback last week, which could boost the strict immigration enforcement efforts. On Thursday (27 September, 2018), a Superior Court judge in Orange County ruled in favor of the city, one of 121 charter cities in the state, which has been challenging state Senate Bill 54, also known as the California Values Act, saying that it violated their right to have local control.

The law prevents local authorities from making inquiries about people’s immigration status during the course of ordinary interactions, and from taking part in the majority of immigration enforcement actions carried out by the federal government. In April, Huntington Beach filed a complaint against the bill, arguing that the state constitution grants them independence and autonomy on particular laws, including local resources and police departments.

The decision could mean a boost for enforcement efforts by federal immigration authorities by allowing US Immigration and Customs Enforcement to gain access to particular local jails. Before SB 54 was in place, federal immigration agents received space in local jails and prisons on request as a matter of routine to find immigrants with particular felonies and have them transferred into federal custody.

The California Attorney General’s Office, responsible for fighting the case, declined to comment. Huntington Beach’s city attorney, Michael Gates, called the ruling a massive victory for his city and an equally massive defeat for California.