SAN DIEGO (CN) – Despite pleas from dozens of San Diegans Tuesday not to join Jeff Sessions’ lawsuit against California’s “sanctuary state” law, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved joining the federal lawsuit suing its own state.
The all-Republican board voted 3-1 in closed session Tuesday afternoon in favor of supporting the Department of Justice’s lawsuit against SB 54, the California Values Act, which restricts local law enforcement officials from collaborating with federal immigration authorities.
Chairwoman Kristin Gaspar, who is running to replace Rep. Darrell Issa in San Diego’s hotly contested congressional race, Vice Chairwoman Dianne Jacob and Supervisor Bill Horn all voted to support the federal lawsuit. Supervisor Greg Cox cast the dissenting vote while Supervisor Ron Roberts was absent on an international trip, but released a memo ahead of the vote “urging” his colleagues “to stay out of this issue.”
The board, which represents San Diego County and its unincorporated areas, directed the county attorney to file an amicus brief supporting the federal government’s lawsuit against California. But because the deadline to file a brief has passed, San Diego County will not be able to weigh in on the lawsuit until a possible appeal is filed later by the losing party to a higher court.
San Diego County joins the north San Diego city of Escondido, Orange County, Los Alamitos and other cities which have turned against their own state’s policies on immigration and policing in siding with the federal government’s legal challenge.
Critics of the sanctuary-state law said Tuesday it could make California less safe and a “magnet” for undocumented immigrants to move to the state. Supporters of the law said President Donald Trump’s deportation policies make communities less safe because undocumented immigrants fear reporting crimes to local police who work with immigration officers could lead to their deportation.
San Diegans in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting overwhelmingly supported California’s law: 40 speakers spoke in favor of the California Values Act while 12 speakers vote in favor of the federal lawsuit challenging it.
A representative from the San Diego Psychological Association said the group was against the federal lawsuit and increased efforts at deporting undocumented immigrants, noting family separation is a top contributor of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in immigrant adults.
San Diego Border Dreamers board director Ali Torabi, an undocumented San Diegan from Iran who has lived in the region for 23 years, said being granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, status allowed him to “come out from working under the shadows,” attend UC Los Angeles and go to medical school next year. Torabi said California’s “sanctuary state” law “allows us to maintain our support systems, our families.”