ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. – Officials in Orange County voted Tuesday to join a lawsuit fighting a preposterous new state law. The Trump administration is fighting the state’s farcical “sanctuary city” laws.
In what appears to be a timely cojointed effort, hours after the board of supervisors voted to join the federal lawsuit, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department announced its own methods of pushing back against the legislation aimed at protecting illegal immigrants.
Peace officers in the county—home to Disneyland, John Wayne Airport, Angels baseball, Ducks hockey, and the US Open Surfing Championship—have privately told Law Enforcement Today they are livid with Gov. Brown and the new state law that restricts their cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
One of the laws bars police in many cases from turning over suspects to federal immigration agents for deportation. It legislatively rewinds protocols to pre-9/11 debacles.
“This legislation prevents law enforcement from removing criminals from our community and is a threat to public safety,” Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson said before the vote.
Moreover, the traditionally conservative county moved earlier this week to improve communication with federal immigration agents by publishing the release dates of inmates online. The sheriff’s department used to screen inmates in the county’s jails to help ICE agents identify those subject to deportation but had to stop after the state law passed.
Sheriff Sandra Hutchens told “Tucker Carlson Tonight” that she does not see her actions in conflict with the highly controversial law.
The Orange County Register reported that the sheriff’s department would publish a “Who’s in Jail” online database, including the date and time of inmates’ release, to help cooperate with other law enforcement agencies including ICE.
“SB 54 makes local law enforcement’s job more difficult and requires bureaucratic processes that could allow dangerous individuals to fall through the cracks of our justice system,” Sheriff Sandra Hutchens said. “My department, however, remains committed to cooperating fully with federal authorities in all areas where I have discretion to remove serious criminals from our community.”
Meanwhile, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra would not rule out taking action of his own against officials who fight the laws, including the sheriff. However, most pundits view this as nothing but posturing. But is it?
“State law is state law. It’s my job to enforce state law and I will do so. We want to make sure that every jurisdiction, including Orange County, understands what state law requires of the people and the subdivisions of the state of California,” Becerra said at a news conference. When asked if that meant an arrest or lawsuit against the sheriff, Becerra responded, “I think I just answered that.”
Orange County Undersheriff Don Barnes told Fox News in an interview that Becerra’s comments “were threatening,” but the sheriff’s office was not doing anything that the law did not allow.
“My hope would be that he would read the language of the law that was passed,” he said on “Hannity.” “It very clearly says in there what we can and cannot do.”
Furthermore, Barnes added that the law has put Californians at risk by returning dangerous individuals back into the communities and that by making this information public, the sheriff’s office was trying to help the community be safer.
“They’re very serious crimes and they’re being return back into the community, and quite honestly back into the communities in which they preyed upon and committed their crimes to begin with.”
Annie Lai, co-director of the Immigrant Rights Clinic at UC Irvine, noted that SB-54 does allow authorities to notify federal agencies of the release dates of illegal immigrants convicted of serious crimes, reported Fox News. “This change in policy is basically affecting everybody else who doesn’t have a serious criminal history under SB-54,” she said.
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Earlier this month, the City of Los Alamitos, which is in Orange County, approved an ordinance to opt out of the sanctuary city law that council members say conflicts with federal law.
Los Alamitos Mayor Pro Tem Warren Kusumoto said the state law conflicts with the U.S. Constitution. Therefore, the city is simply articulating that federal law wins.
“We are declaring sanctuary from the State of California sanctuary law, which is somewhat ironic,” he said. Moreover, they have received overwhelming public support regarding their ambition to abide by federal law.
Councilmember’s voting in favor reiterated the state law “may be in direct conflict with federal laws and the Constitution,” and goes against the oath they took for office.
“We are a patriotic, law abiding community,” Kusumoto continued. “And we are trying to do the best we can with circumstances that are beyond our control.”