Advocates of the state’s so-called “sanctuary state” law vowed Tuesday to continue their efforts in a battle between the city of Huntington Beach and the state over the constitutionality of the law.
American Civil Liberty Union officials have filed an appeal of an Orange County Superior Court judge’s ruling siding with Huntington Beach in its lawsuit against the state’s California Values Act. Huntington Beach officials argue that the state does not have the constitutional right to impose its law on their police force because Huntington Beach is a charter city.
So-called general law cities cannot adopt ordinances that supersede state law, but charter cities have more authority to establish their own laws that differ from state laws.
“As a charter city we’re allowed to have unfettered control over our police force,” Huntington Beach City Attorney Michael Gates said.
ACLU attorney Sameer Ahmed said the organization’s appeal also attempts to hitch its lawsuit against the city of Los Alamitos to any appellate court ruling. The ACLU has sued Los Alamitos, which is also a charter city, for voting to opt out of the California Values Act.
Orange County Superior Court Judge James Crandall on Monday rejected the ACLU’s motion for a new trial on behalf of several local citizens. That prompted the ACLU’s appeal.
“We represent the residents of cities of Huntington Beach and Los Alamitos and we filed a notice of appeal to challenge the superior court’s ruling striking down the California Values Act as it applies to Huntington Beach,” Ahmed said.
The state previously filed its own appeal of Crandall’s ruling in September.
“We want immigrants affected and harmed to be able to appeal as well,” Ahmed said. “They are aggrieved third parties.”
Ahmed said he expected the ACLU’s appeal to be consolidated with the state appeal.
Gates noted that the ACLU and its clients “never intervened in the case when it was active. They never requested the court to consider anything from their side at any time during the litigation.”
Since the judge’s ruling in September, which was finalized in November, “it was crickets, nothing coming from the ACLU or any of the other individuals, and suddenly they file this last-minute, 11th-hour motion for a new trial,” Gates said.
“As far as we’re concerned the ACLU is attempting to politicize this and elbow their way into the case to make their own arguments and make their own case,” Gates said.
Crandall found the ACLU did not have the legal standing to ask for a new trial, Gates said.
Ahmed said the judge’s ruling has made undocumented immigrants fearful of deportation.
“They’re less likely to interact with law enforcement if they’re victims of a crime,” he said. “They fear taking their children to school. The actions of Huntington Beach and Los Alamitos have caused a lot of confusion and harm, the kind of harm the California Values Act was designed to prevent.”
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