The Los Alamitos City Council risks a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union if it finalizes an ordinance to “opt out” of California’s so-called sanctuary state law, an ACLU spokesman said Thursday.
Los Alamitos officials have been informed that the civil rights organization will sue if the council votes Monday to follow through with the measure to exempt the city from the California Values Act, which restricts local law enforcement cooperation with Immigration Customs Enforcement on deportation of undocumented residents, according to ACLU spokesman David Colker.
The council has scheduled a special, closed-door meeting to discuss the threatened litigation prior to taking a second reading of the ordinance.
Meanwhile, the Westminster City Council voted 3-1 on Wednesday — Councilwoman Kimberly Ho was absent — to join another city’s amicus brief in support of the U.S. Department of Justice’s lawsuit challenging portions of the state’s law.
The vote to add Westminster to another city’s friend-of-the-court brief came after Councilman Sergio Contreras argued against spending any money on the issue.
“Adding Westminster to the lawsuit would not advance our city goals, stature or increase its revenues,” Contreras said. “It would instead be a drain on our resources, which are already stretched too thin.”
City Attorney Richard Jones said it would cost the city $15,000 to prepare an amicus brief in support of the lawsuit.
Westminster Mayor Tri Ta recounted how his family fled war-torn Vietnam to demonstrate the importance of emigrating to the U.S. legally. Ta’s uncle left Vietnam in 1975 and sent immigration paperwork to his family in 1980.
Ta’s family got an interview with state department officials in 1990, and were able to legally come to the country in 1992, he said.
The mayor said he supported the federal government’s lawsuit because “I need to follow the U.S. Constitution.”
He added, “My vote may be unpopular with some of you, but I have to stand for what I believe.”
Councilwoman Margie Rice lashed out at her critics at the meeting and sparred with Contreras.
“I’m very disappointed in some of our young people who have no manners whatsoever,” Rice said. “I hope the parents take over and teach them how to respect other people’s opinions.”
Rice added, “I’m not saying we should join the lawsuit or fight anyone, but I say we should respect the Constitution of the United States of America … And those of you who don’t want to should go somewhere else.”
She called someone in the audience a “bigot,” and called Orange County Democratic Party Vice-Chair for North County Jeff LeTourneau “disgusting” following his criticism of Rice.
“I see an old, white, privileged, tired woman hanging on (to her position) by her fingertips,” LeTourneau said. “Shame on you.”
He argued that local law enforcement cooperation with ICE would discourage undocumented residents from reporting crimes, making Westminster less safe.
“Ours is the party that believes no human is illegal,” LeTourneau told the council. “We believe in public safety … When crimes go unreported, Westminster becomes more dangerous for all of us.”
Also this week, the Newport Beach and Orange city councils voted to side with the federal government against California on the sanctuary state law.
Most cities have decided to go for an amicus brief as the least expensive and best option to support the federal lawsuit. Huntington Beach decided to sue to join the federal lawsuit, following the Orange County Board of Supervisors’ lead.
The other O.C. cities siding with the federal government are Mission Viejo, Aliso Viejo, Fountain Valley, San Juan Capistrano and Yorba Linda. Santa Ana has sided with the state over the federal government.
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