In Liberal California, One City Seeks to Side With Trump Against 'Sanctuary' Law

A small city in Orange County, California, plans to consider passing an ordinance that would exempt it from a state law protecting immigrants, a move that would set it apart from the rest of the largely liberal state.

On Monday evening, the City Council government of Los Alamitos, home to some 11,000 residents about an hour southeast of Los Angeles, will have the first reading of a potential ordinance proposing to exempt the city from the California Values Act, also known as SB-54. The law approved by Governor Jerry Brown in October restricts how local law enforcement can work with federal immigration authorities.

Los Alamitos Mayor Troy Edgar said as far as he knows, Los Alamitos is the first city in California to consider such an ordinance, though he said others have passed non-binding resolutions stating their positions against the state law. That such an effort is happening in traditionally-conservative Orange County is unsurprising, even though Hillary Clinton won the 2016 presidential election there with 50.9 percent of the vote, apparently the first Democrat to do so since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In the county, an estimated 34.2 percent of residents were Hispanic or Latino as of 2016, about the same as the estimated 38.6 percent statewide, according to the U.S. Census.

The council will vote on whether to have a second reading of the proposal next month, which would be necessary for a final vote on its passage. A majority of the five-member council is needed to approve a second reading. Edgar said he expects the possible ordinance to get enough votes for a second reading and ultimately pass.

"I will give it my best shot," he said in an email to Newsweek Monday. "I feel that the state has completely outstepped its boundaries by passing a law that conflicts with the U.S. Constitution."

Migrant rights groups protest President Donald Trump’s crackdown on sanctuary cities, in Los Angeles on January 25, 2017. The California city of Los Alamitos plans to consider an ordinance that would exempt it from a state sanctuary law. MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty

The Trump administration has vowed to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities, or jurisdictions with policies that limit interaction between local police and federal immigration agents. Earlier this month, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the state over the California Values Act and two related laws, saying in a statement that they "intentionally obstruct and discriminate against the enforcement of federal immigration law."

"We take an oath of office that says we will support and defend the constitution of the United States, and we also support the constitution of the state of California," said Warren Kusumoto, the mayor pro tem in Los Alamitos who sits on the council and will introduce the potential ordinance. "I feel that SB-54, that becomes the California Values Act, causes us to have a conflict of which one we will comply with."

He added, "We're a small city. We get bullied all the time by the state and by the elected leadership in Sacramento, and I'm actually tired of it."

The ordinance would add language to the city's municipal code saying it "does hereby exempt the city of Los Alamitos from the California Values Act," and that the city will "instead will comply with the appropriate federal laws and the constitution of the United States."

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California has voiced opposition to the Los Alamitos proposal. On Monday, the group sent a letter to the City Council expressing "strong opposition" to the possible ordinance and it plans to hold an event outside of City Council at the time of the meeting."This is a call to action to stand up for our immigrant communities and let the city council these attacks are not welcome anymore!" said a Facebook page for the event.

Besides Edgar and Kusumoto, one additional council member must vote in favor of a second reading in order for the proposal to move forward. In an email, one member, Shelley Hasselbrink, declined to say publicly how she intends to vote but said it is "such an important topic." The two other council members did not respond to requests for comment.