Orange County supervisors voted Tuesday to intervene in U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session’s lawsuit challenging the state’s so-called sanctuary state law prohibiting California officials from fully cooperating with immigration authorities on the deportation of undocumented immigrants.
The California Values Act prohibits local law enforcement officials throughout the state from asking about immigration status. It also bars local authorities from holding undocumented immigrants in jails until federal authorities can pick them up.
State officials say the law does not stop sheriff’s deputies from allowing access to immigration authorities in their jails to interview inmates. Also, local law enforcement officials may cooperate with the deportation of state convicts in prison or inmates in local jails being held for a list of serious offenses.
Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel had proposed a resolution condemning the state law, prompting Supervisor Shawn Nelson to propose joining Sessions’ lawsuit. Nelson has long criticized resolutions as being relatively toothless and often not having anything to do with county business.
The action comes on the heels of the Los Alamitos City Council’s preliminary vote to “exempt” that city from the state law, which drew a rebuke from the American Civil Liberties Union, which has pledged to sue the city if it gives final approval to its ordinance.
Several residents spoke in support of the county opposing the state law, but multiple others called Sessions’ lawsuit “racist” and “divisive.”
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Huntington Beach, implored the county to oppose the state law.
“By making us a sanctuary city and state, we’re doing nothing more than attracting millions more people to come to this country and to consume the very wealth that is necessary for our quality of life,” Rohrabacher said. He added “this flow of illegals” has “brought down our quality of education,” as well as healthcare and housing.
“Millions of people come here to get their benefits,” Rohrabacher said. “If we don’t act rationally, we are hurting everybody.”
Rohrabacher claimed the country spends $23 billion annually “to handle illegal immigrant benefits.”
Nelson said he is concerned that the state law makes it harder for local law enforcement to work with federal authorities.
Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens announced Monday that her department will now publicly release information about the release of undocumented immigrants from the county’s jails. Hutchens opposed the state law because she felt it would hinder her department’s cooperation with federal authorities.