California Governor Jerry Brown’s ‘Sanctuary’ Law Under Fire as Poll Finds Majority Backs Deportations

Updated | A poll of Californians found that almost half support a Muslim ban and a majority want deportations of illegal immigrants to increase, despite opposing President Donald Trump’s border wall with Mexico and supporting the notion that immigration strengthens America.

The apparently contradictory results of the poll published by UC Berkeley’s progressive-leaning Haas Institute on Wednesday pose difficult questions for Governor Jerry Brown, who has disrupted the president's plan to send National Guard troops south to police the Mexico border for illegal immigration.

Brown is also a staunch advocate of “sanctuary cities,” jurisdictions that turn a blind eye to immigration status to allow people who have entered America illegally to live and work without the threat of deportation. Trump vowed to fight sanctuary cities in his crackdown on illegal immigration.

According to the Haas Institute poll of 2,440 Californians, conducted in December 2017, 66 percent rejected the idea that Trump’s border wall is an important priority of immigration policy.

Jerry Brown Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA) speaks during an event at the National Press Club April 17, 2018 in Washington, DC. Governor Brown mobilized 400 National Guard troops across California but refused President Trump's order for them to police immigration at the Mexico border. Alex Wong/Getty Images

And while 70 percent of Californians agreed that immigrants strengthen America, 59 percent backed an increase in deportations.

Moreover, 49 percent of Californians supported a Muslim ban against 51 percent who did not. Yet 79 percent thought it was important to take in those fleeing war and violence, falling to 66 percent if the refugees are Muslim.

“We have made a lot of progress toward being more inclusive and equitable, but we cannot take for granted the progress we have made in California since the 1990s, when fear-based politics dominated the state,” said Eli Moore, a Haas Institute researcher involved in the project, in a press release.

Governor Brown mobilized 400 members of the state’s National Guard for duties across California on Wednesday, including to fight drug trafficking, but refused to allow their use at the border by President Trump, who has instructed states to send troops south to stop illegal immigration from Mexico.

“California National Guard service members shall not engage in any direct law enforcement role nor enforce immigration laws, arrest people for immigration law violations, guard people taken into custody for alleged immigration violations, or support immigration law enforcement activities,” Brown’s order said. “California National Guard service members shall not participate in the construction of any new border barrier.”

Under Brown, California introduced a law making it a "sanctuary state" by restricting local authorities' cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

That law came into effect on January 1, 2018, but has been the focus of a backlash from conservative-controlled jurisdictions in California and is subject to a lawsuit by the Trump administration.

The city council of Las Alamitos in Orange County voted to exempt itself from Brown's Senate Bill 54 in April. Orange County leaders have also joined a federal lawsuit by the U.S. Justice Department against California's state sanctuary law. So has Escondido City Council and San Diego County.

"I am concerned about our borders," Brown said at the National Press Club on April 17, citing problems with guns, drugs and human trafficking.

"California's a very diverse state. We have many different congressional districts and cities. And they think differently.

"I would say that the law as I signed it was very different than the law that was originally introduced. California works with the immigration service all the time. They're working daily with out state prison system as well as other law enforcement people.

"But we do say we're not going to do the work of the federal government. Under the law we're not required to. We're not interfering with it. But we are doing our work."

Brown had previously accused Trump of "basically going to war against the state of California, the engine of the American economy," though the Haas Institute poll results bring into question the strength of support his immigration policies have among voters.

President Trump tweeted on Wednesday: "There is a Revolution going on in California. Soooo many Sanctuary areas want OUT of this ridiculous, crime infested & breeding concept. Jerry Brown is trying to back out of the National Guard at the Border, but the people of the State are not happy. Want Security & Safety NOW!"

This article was updated to include comments from Governor Brown at the National Press Club.