Santa Clarita City Council Votes To Oppose California’s Sanctuary Law That Protects Undocumented Immigrants

In a unanimous vote, Santa Clarita becomes the first city in Los Angeles County to officially challenge California's status as a sanctuary state.

California city votes to deny state law on Sanctuary cities.
Don Thompson

In a unanimous vote, Santa Clarita becomes the first city in Los Angeles County to officially challenge California's status as a sanctuary state.

In a unanimous 5-0 vote last week, the Santa Clarita City Council agreed to oppose California Senate Bill 54. The bill, which was signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown on October 5, 2017, effectively made California a sanctuary state by limiting local law enforcement’s cooperation with federal immigration authorities and providing safe zones for undocumented immigrants.

Santa Clarita, which has a population of 182,000, joined a growing number of California cities that have voted to file a legal brief in support of the Trump administration’s lawsuit against the state’s sanctuary law. The city also opposes the state’s restrictions on cooperation with ICE and other federal law enforcement agencies in matters concerning immigration.

The push to oppose California Senate Bill 54 began in March, 2018, in the Orange County suburb of Los Alamitos, a small city of only 11,000, when the city council voted to opt-out of the state’s sanctuary law.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents serve an employment audit notice at a 7-Eleven convenience store in Los Angeles. Chris Carlson / AP Images

As reported by NPR, Los Alamitos Mayor Pro Tem Warren Kusumoto, the grandson of legal immigrants, explained why he supported the motion to oppose the state’s policies on undocumented immigrants.

“I believe my grandparents did it the right way, they were able to immigrate, become naturalized eventually and citizens. Why is that not the right way for anybody to come over here as immigrants?”

There is a great deal of confusion about California’s immigration policy, which the Los Angeles Times attempted to clarify.

“Senate Bill 54 would prevent state and local agencies from complying with any ‘hold requests’ to detain immigrants, for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It would also prohibit state and local agencies from using their facilities, property, equipment or personnel for immigration enforcement, and from spending money on it.

“It would also create ‘safe zones’ for immigrants by requiring all public schools, public libraries, courthouses and health facilities run by state or local government to implement those policies or ‘equivalent’ regulations, though they would not have to be approved by the state.”

California State Senator Kevin de León. Denis Poroy / AP Images

California Senate Bill 54 was introduced by California State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon on December 5, 2016. Senator de Leon, who is a member of the Democrat Party and a member of the California Latino Legislative Caucus, is now running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Dianne Feinstein.

In a meeting with the Daily Bruin editorial board, de Leon criticized the California cities that opposed the state’s sanctuary law, and he also directed a jab at President Trump.

“They have sided with (President Donald) Trump over their own home state, California. There’s a reason I moved forward with SB 54 – to make sure that Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions do not commandeer our local resources to be an extension of the Trump deportation regime.”

While the vast majority of California’s Democrat Party officials support the state’s sanctuary law, Santa Clarita’s elected officials disagreed with the state’s immigration policies.

In an interview with The Signal in March, 2018, Santa Clarita City Councilman Bob Kellar explained the risks of making California a sanctuary state.

“I feel very strongly that this whole thing of having a sanctuary state and sanctuary cities is ridiculous. We are putting our American citizens at additional risk and there’s no question about this — it’s costing our state ungodly billions of dollars.”

Foreign national being arrested during a targeted enforcement operation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Charles Reed/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement / AP Images

At a packed town hall meeting in Santa Clarita on May 8, 2018, over 100 local residents waited patiently for their turn to speak to their elected officials before the city council vote.

According to the L.A. Times, Annette Burns was baffled by the state’s refusal to cooperate with federal authorities.

“I don’t understand. When these people have committed a crime … why can’t one agency be able to call another agency?

The Santa Clarita City Council vote even made the network news when Fox News contributor Tomi Lauren spoke about the city’s decision to support the Trump administration’s lawsuit against the state.

During an appearance on Fox & Friends, Lahren, a California resident, said the unanimous council vote to oppose Senate Bill 54 should serve as a wake-up call on immigration policy.

“City by city, area by area, county by county, we are seeing it. Make no mistake, California will not tolerate lawlessness anymore.

“This is a cautionary tale [for] the Democrats. You, Democrats, made this a left versus right issue by choosing to hold illegal immigrants over American citizens.”

The left and the right will continue to agree to disagree on many issues, including immigration, but in the matter of California Senate Bill 54, the U.S. Supreme Court will probably have the last word. As the case slowly winds its way through the labyrinthine federal legal system, President Trump hopes the courts will rule in his favor and find the California sanctuary law unconstitutional.