Los Alamitos might try to opt out of California’s new sanctuary law.
The City Council in Orange County’s second-smallest city is scheduled to vote Monday, March 19 on an ordinance that calls for exempting itself from the California Values Act, SB54, a new law that limits cooperation between law enforcement and immigration authorities.
The state law, which took effect Jan. 1, “may be in direct conflict with federal laws and the Constitution of the United States,” reads the proposed local law.
Stating that council members have taken an oath to defend the U.S. Constitution, the ordinance says the council “finds that it is impossible to honor our oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States” and at the same time be in compliance with the new state law.
The proposed ordinance might be the first local attempt in California to officially challenge the law, said Kathleen Kim, a Loyola Marymount University law professor who specializes in immigrants’ rights and human trafficking.
The proposed ordinance contains “flawed argument,” Kim said Friday, March 16. The new state law is “absolutely consistent with the U.S. Constitution,” she said.
Annie Lai, co-director of the Immigrant Rights Clinic at UC Irvine, said Los Alamitos is inviting a lawsuit if the ordinance is adopted.
“It looks like they’re setting themselves up for litigation,” she said.
Earlier this month, California’s law was legally challenged by the federal government. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions went to Sacramento to file a lawsuit against California, Gov. Jerry Brown and the state’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra. The lawsuit is challenging three laws, including SB54, the so-called California sanctuary state known as the California Values Act, as unconstitutional.
Los Alamitos Councilman Warren Kusumoto, who introduced the proposed ordinance, was out of town Friday and could not be reached for comment.
Mayor Troy Edgar, saying he wants to discuss the proposal, is tentatively in favor of Kusumoto’s proposal. “The state had overstepped its boundary” in passing the sanctuary law, Edgar said.
Councilwoman Shelley Hasselbrink said that if adopting the proposed ordinance doesn’t negatively impact the city, she too would support it “to stay consistent with my oath (of office.)”
Some residents welcome the proposed law.
“Everyone holding elective office takes the same oath to uphold the laws to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. It doesn’t say unless the state legislature decides otherwise,” said Art DeBolt, a longtime community activist, via e-mail. “I do believe somewhere in our history, we fought a war to prevent states from ignoring the law of the land and preserving the union.”
The Los Alamitos City Council is scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. Monday at 3191 Katella Ave