All Bob Kellar said he wanted was to place the matter of the state sanctuary law on a future City Council agenda. He failed the first time, in March, but succeeded at the April 10 meeting. The council again will take up the matter at its next meeting, May 8.
Unlike other councilmembers who have been hesitant to speak about it, Kellar took it one step further and declared what he would like to see happen next.
“If Bob Kellar has his way, we’d definitely take a position of supporting the federal lawsuit against the state,” he said. That means filing an amicus brief in Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ suit against California, in which he says the state’s sanctuary law, the California Value Act (SB 54), endangers federal agents from doing their jobs.
Kellar is the only councilmember to say what he wants to occur. He sees this as a way of fighting back against Sacramento’s undue and intrusive influence.
Councilmember Cameron Smyth previously has opposed some of the many actions the Legislature takes – and he’s a former Assemblyman. But reached Tuesday at the Austin, Texas airport, Smyth declined to say what he wants the council to do because he doesn’t yet want to commit to a position. Instead, he echoed what Mayor Laurene Weste said at the April 10 meeting: Keep the discussion civil.
“In a perfect scenario, we can have a civil discussion focused specifically on the merits of SB 54, and I realize it’s a very emotional issue on both sides,” Smyth said, “but it’s certainly my hope that we can keep the focus of the discussion on the bill specifically.”
No matter what the council decides to do, it will be likely as heated as Smyth and Weste fear. David Barlavi led a demonstration supporting the sanctuary law at Tuesday’s council meeting, and numerous people spoke in favor of and against SB 54. Too many times, applause broke out after a speaker, causing the mayor to threaten to clear the room “if there is incivility in the room.”
The Gazette received an interoffice memorandum dated April 9 from City Manager Kenneth Striplin about SB 54. It is this information that the council will use to help make a decision.
First, it summarizes the CVA. SB 54 changes existing state law that required law enforcement agencies to notify immigration officials when a non-citizen is arrested on drug-related charges.
It also prohibits law enforcement from using department funds to share personal information and release date of a non-citizen arrested, details or conviction of petty theft, property theft or certain drug-related misdemeanors that were felonies until 2014. And it allows law enforcement to disclose when a non-citizen convicted of a serious or violent felony will be released or transferred, provided that person also was convicted of a crime in the last five years or a non-violent felony in the last 15 years.
The memorandum then summarizes recent federal government action. Not only is Sessions suing over SB 54, he’s also challenging two other pieces of legislation: the Immigrant Worker Protection Act and Assembly Bill 103. The IWPA (aka AB 450) prohibits an employer or other person acting on the employer’s behalf from providing voluntary consent to an immigration enforcement agent to enter nonpublic areas of a place of labor without a judicial warrant.
AB 103 authorizes the state attorney general to inspect federal holding facilities, checking for health and safety, fire suppression, training compliance and ensuring due process.
Then the memorandum summarizes what other cities and counties have done. Los Alamitos opted out of SB 54, Huntington Beach decided to sue the state, San Juan Capistrano adopted a resolution urging the CVA be repealed; and Yorba Linda, Mission Viejo, Fountain Valley, Aliso Viejo, Escondido and Orange County chose to file amicus briefs supporting the federal lawsuit (San Diego County, Upland and Simi Valley joined later).
On the other side, Los Angeles, Long Beach and San Gabriel adopted a resolution supporting SB 54; and Santa Ana approved filing a brief in support of the state. The memo also mentions that Fullerton and West Covina discussed, but took no action. Neither did L.A. County.
Finally, the memo summarizes that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is following the law.