Huntington Beach Fights To Remain Exempt From 'Sanctuary State' Law

In 2017, lawmakers passed SB 54, which declared California a 'sanctuary state.' The law prohibits state and local police agencies from notifying the feds about the release of illegal immigrants in custody who could be deported. Activists saw this as a victory for those here illegally, because, they say, those residents have been fearful of interacting with law enforcement because of the fear that they could be deported.

Well, some local cities had a BIG problem with SB 54. One of those cities was Huntington Beach, and their city attorney, Michael Gates, fought back.

In 2018, Gates went to the city council saying he wanted to go to court over the issue because SB 54 violated the city's rules as a charter city. The city council agreed and Gates went to court. In September 2018, an Orange County Superior Court judge ruled that the law is unconstitutional as it applies to charter cities, and that the cities themselves, not the state, know what's best when it comes to their police departments.

The ruling made not just Huntington Beach, but ALL of California's charter cities, 121 of them, EXEMPT from complying with SB 54.

As you can imagine, the state wasn't happy about that, so the attorney general's office appealed, and this week a panel of judges on the 4th District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana heard arguments from both sides.

Gates argued that the state can not prohibit a city's police department to comply with SB 54 because the California Constitution prevents it, saying the state constitution:

"...allows the city to control its own police department. SB 54 interferes or undermines that because it means to tell our officers what and what not to do."

State Deputy Attorney General Jonathan Eisenberg argued that state concerns supersede municipal ones, saying the law:

"...has the purpose of promoting trust between law enforcement agencies and the community that they serve."

He said the lower court's ruling in this case:

'undermined the trust and community policing model that is infused within the act. If a charter city an opt-out...what will happen to the trust that is supposed to be built by this law.'

The court is expected to issue a decision on the case by January 21st.

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