Residents Sue SoCal City for Bucking Sanctuary State Law

SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) – Residents sued the Orange County city of Los Alamitos on Wednesday, fighting the city council’s new ordinance exempting the town from California’s sanctuary state law.

Represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and others, an attorney, reverend and community group are seeking an injunction against Los Alamitos to prevent it from enforcing an ordinance its city council approved Monday, exempting it from complying with SB 54, the California Values Act.

The ordinance states that the city “will comply with the appropriate federal laws and Constitution of the United States” in authorizing police officers and school officials to disregard the state law and collaborate with federal immigration authorities.

Los Alamitos is one of several California cities and counties which have voted to oppose the sanctuary state law. San Diego County was the most recent region to vote, Tuesday, to support U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ lawsuit against California.

In the 25-page lawsuit filed Wednesday in Santa Ana Superior Court, Los Alamitos Community United, the Rev. Samuel Pullen and attorney Henry Josefsberg claim the ordinance is preempted by state law.

They seek an order forcing the city to comply with the California Values Act.

Los Alamitos, which has a population of 11,600, is south of downtown Los Angeles, about halfway between Long Beach, on the coast, and Anaheim, inland.

“California law does not allow local officials to unilaterally declare a state law unconstitutional and decline to follow it on that basis,” the complaint states.

The plaintiffs say that “failure to give effect to the safeguards set forth in the Values Act will have a devastating and far-reaching impact on communities in Los Alamitos and elsewhere.”

Pullen said in a statement that immigrants are less likely to participate in church services and activities due to fear of deportation.

Los Alamitos Community United says the ordinance makes residents less likely to interact with police or report crimes due to “their fear that Los Alamitos and its law enforcement officials are participating in federal deportation programs to help turn their families, friends and neighbors over to immigration authorities.”

They also say the ordinance authorizes local police officers to perform the functions of a federal immigration agent, uses city funds to do things such as inquire into a person’s immigration status and arrest people based on a civil immigration warrant.

The National Day Laborer Organizing Network and Latham & Watkins law firm are assisting the ACLU.

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