By Miriam Raftery
May 16, 2018 (San Diego) – San Diego’s City Council has voted to join cities and states filing an amicus brief to support California’s sanctuary state laws against a lawsuit filed by the Trump administration. The Council’s action is the polar opposite of County Supervisors, who voted to support the federal lawsuit against our state.
The City Council’s 5 to 2 vote came in close session on Tuesday, with Councilmembers Lorie Zapf and Mark Kersey casting the only no votes. Councilmembers Chris Cate and Scott Sherman were absent.
Supervisors, by contrast, voted 3 to 1 to support the suit, with only Supervisor Greg Cox voting no and Supervisor Ron Roberts away.
The Sanctuary State laws are designed to protect many undocumented immigrants from deportation by limiting cooperation between state and local law enforcement agencies and federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, officers. They also limit federal immigration officials from entering workplaces without a warrant and give California’s attorney general the right to inspect immigration detention facilities.
Opponents of the sanctuary state laws contend that one of those laws, SB 54 protects criminals and could increase crime.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer issued a statement indicating, “San Diego is not a sanctuary city. I oppose the vote to join an amicus brief in the lawsuit over California's sanctuary state laws. San Diego is one of the safest big cities in the country, with public safety policies that have worked under both Republican and Democratic administrations,” the Mayor posted on Twitter, adding, “We have no plans to change them.”
However, Sheriff Bill Gore has said the final version of the law passed by the Legislature allows his department to notify ICE officials before releasing prisoners who have been convicted of any of 800 serious crimes, or even if they have merely been arrested provided they have had a hearing before a judge.
The Sheriff has also said law enforcement officials don’t want immigrants to be afraid to talk with police or sheriff officers to report crimes if they are witnesses or victims, and that he negotiated with Governor Brown and the Legislature to have some language removed from the bill to assure that his department can still coordinate with federal officials on matters such as terrorism.
"We thank the council members for their leadership in protecting our immigrant communities,” said Norma Chavez-Peterson, executive director of the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties. She added, "California is fully within its rights helping to keep families together, defending Californians' constitutionally-protected due process rights, and protecting Californians from racial profiling and other injustices."