Huntington Beach Defeats California’s ‘Sanctuary State’ Law in Court

The city of Huntington Beach, California, won the first victory Thursday against the State of California over a controversial new “sanctuary state” law, arguing successfully that the law infringed on its local government powers.
SB 54, the “California Values Act,” was created by State Sen. Kevin de Léon (D-Los Angeles) (now running for U.S. Senate against incumbent Democrat Dianne Feinstein) as a rebuke to the immigration policies of the new Trump administration in 2017. Signed by Governor Jerry Brown nearly a year ago, SB 54 limits the ability of local law enforcement agencies to cooperate with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

In March, Attorney General Jeff Sessions traveled to Sacramento, California, to challenge SB 54 and two other “sanctuary state” laws: the Inspection and Review of Facilities Housing Federal Detainees law (AB 103) and the Immigrant Worker Protection Act (AB 450).

That inspired over a dozen cities, predominantly in Orange County and San Diego County, to pass resolutions against the sanctuary state laws and support the federal lawsuit. Huntington Beach went a step further, and its city council voted in April to sue the state on its own.

In July, a federal district court blocked enforcement of AB 450, but upheld the enforcement of SB 54 and AB 103. Orange County Superior Court Judge James Crandall fast-tracked the city’s lawsuit in July after denying the state’s request for a delay pending the federal decision, ruling that the city’s lawsuit was based on different legal grounds.

The city was victorious on Thursday, as the Los Angeles Times reports, noting that Judge Crandall “sided with Huntington Beach City Attorney Michael Gates’ argument that the law is unconstitutional as it applies to charter cities, which are run by a charter adopted by local voters.

As a result, other cities are also exempt: “The ruling makes Huntington Beach and all of California’s 121 charter cities exempt from complying with SB54.”

The local revolt against California’s sanctuary state laws has mobilized conservative voters in Southern California, and is a major reason that Democrats have struggled to dominate congressional races in districts they had targeted for victory in the 2018 midterm elections.

President Donald Trump has supported the local “revolution” from afar, tweeting his support for the activists and criticizing the state’s Democratic leaders for their “open borders” policies.

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