A suburban Southern California town has rebelled against California's so-called "sanctuary" law (SB-54) designed to protect illegal immigrants from deportation by limiting cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities.
The Los Alamitos City Council voted 4-1 after over two hours of heated testimony from local residents on both sides of the issue.
Los Alamitos leaders on Monday approved an ordinance that exempts their Orange County municipality from Senate Bill 54, a law that took effect Jan. 1 and restricts local law enforcement's cooperation with federal immigration authorities. It marks a rare effort by a city to challenge the sanctuary movement, which has wide support among elected officials in left-leaning California. -LA Times
Mayor Troy Edgar joined council members Richard Murphy and Shelly Hasselbrink in support of the new local law - noting that California's sanctuary law puts them at odds with the U.S. constitution, while councilman Mark Chirco voted against it - suggesting it would lead to litigation.
“I cannot see how passing this ordinance would be good for our city,” Chirco said.
"We disagree with Sacramento on a lot of things. Are we not going to follow state law every time we disagree with them?" he added. "I don't think that would be prudent."
One local Latino resident slammed California's sanctuary state law - suggesting it would lead to the gutting of the middle class, ushering in communism.
Following the vote, a standing-room-only crowd of approximately 160 people out of a population of 12,000 erupted in cheers, with some chanting "USA" - however on pro-illegals contingency began chanting "The people united, will never be divided."
The Los Alamitos City Council votes 4-1 to pass an ordinance exempting the city from the CA Values Act, or sanctuary state law. The story at 11pm. pic.twitter.com/pFCcfhy9mg— Melissa MacBride (@abc7melissa) March 20, 2018
Among those who attended the meeting was Moti Cohen, a Garden Grove resident whose wife grew up in Los Alamitos, and who supports the anti-sanctuary measure.
Cohen, an immigrant from Israel, said he came to the U.S. legally and that everyone else should, too. He arrived 27 years ago with a tourist visa and became a legal resident after marrying his U.S. citizen wife.
"The law is the law and has to be enforced all over the country," he said. "The country is a law-and-order country and you have to come here legally." -LA Times
A large overflow crowd watched the proceedings from a monitor outside.
At one point, someone shouted "Great American patriot!" at Councilman Warran Kusumoto, who introduced the legislation. Someone else screamed "America first!"
Those disappointed by the vote called the decision xenophobic and heartbreaking.
“There’s been a real shift to a national, xenophobic acceptability in our society that is heartbreaking,” said Rabbi Jonathan Klein, executive director of the Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice group. “We’re in an era of open bigotry.”
Or - perhaps we're in an era of at least one city in the blue state of California which prefers to follow federal law.