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California’s “Sanctuary State” law continues to protect immigrants despite mistaken lower court ruling

2018.9.28 – Yesterday, a state Superior Court judge based in Orange County issued a ruling in a lawsuit filed by the city of Huntington Beach against California’s “Sanctuary State” law, SB 54 or the California Values Act. The ruling has no effect on SB 54’s application in California’s 58 counties, over 350 “general law” cities, or state agencies. However, the judge erroneously found that the law does not apply to Huntington Beach due to its status as a “charter” city. A written ruling is still forthcoming, and the effect of the judge’s ruling on other charter cities is unclear. Many of the largest such cities are already on record as supporting SB 54. The court’s ruling does not set any precedents and is subject to review from higher courts.

In response to this development, the ICE Out of California coalition steering committee, including Asian Americans Advancing Justice – California, California Immigrant Policy Center, California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, National Day Laborer Organizing Network, and PICO California, issued the following statement. The coalition is a statewide alliance which played a key role in passing the California Values Act.

We are confident that in the end, the California Values Act will not only be upheld in its entirety, but expanded upon. It is more urgent than ever to protect everyone, including immigrants, from the Trump administration’s abuses of power.

In the meantime, the California Values Act continues to protect immigrants from the Trump administration’s deportation machine in all of the state’s 58 counties, from Siskiyou to San Diego. County jails have long been the lynchpin of ICE’s cruel deportation push, but every California Sheriff remains bound by SB 54’s protections.

As far as Huntington Beach is concerned, this narrow ruling is illogical, absurd, and wholly inconsistent with legal precedent. We are confident it will be overturned.

We are also confident that across the state, our values of equality and compassion will prevail. Immigrants are a vital part of California’s heart and soul. Those cities that align with the federal government’s hate-filled agenda will ultimately find themselves on the wrong side of history, discredited morally and politically, just as proponents of the xenophobic Prop. 187 did a generation ago.

Background: SB 54 (de León), also known as the “Sanctuary State” law or the California Values Act, sets a minimum standard across the state to limit local law enforcement from acting as deportation agents. A recent study from the Migration Policy Institute found that “sanctuary” policies like SB 54 have successfully reduced deportations. While an organization designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center has been attempting to orchestrate opposition to SB 54 in certain conservative areas of the state, recent polling has found a solid majority of voters support the “sanctuary state” law. The Trump administration’s attacks on “sanctuary” jurisdictions have met a series of defeats in federal court.