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County Leaders Will Consider Joining Trump Lawsuit

County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Kristin Gaspar says the board will discuss in closed session whether to join the lawsuit between California and the Trump administration over the state's sanctuary policies.

Photo by Sam Hodgson

This post has been updated.

San Diego County leaders will soon consider getting involved in two lawsuits between California and the Trump administration.

“As Chairwoman of the Board, I have asked County Counsel to add the sanctuary city and census lawsuits to our next closed session meeting scheduled for April 17,” Supervisor Kristin Gaspar told VOSD in a statement Wednesday.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice sued California over three state laws passed last year, which attempt to hamper the federal government’s immigration enforcement crackdown in the state.

The lawsuit targets SB 54, which limits how local law enforcement and federal immigration official can interact; AB 405, which prohibits private employers from granting Immigration and Customs Enforcement access to worksites or documents without a judicial warrant; and AB 103, which created a state inspection system for immigration detention facilities located in California.

On Monday, California filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration for adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Experts and advocates have said that states with significant immigrant populations, like California, could stand to lose, electoral college votes in presidential elections, seats in state legislatures and Congress, and federal funding based on census counts.

On Tuesday, the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to join the Trump administration’s lawsuit against California’s “sanctuary” laws.

It’s unclear where some of the other members of the all-Republican San Diego County Board of Supervisors stand on the issue.

Supervisor Bill Horn’s spokeswoman referred the question to Gaspar. Supervisor Ron Roberts’ spokesman said he had no plans to bring a motion forward similar to that of Orange County. Supervisor Greg Cox’s spokesman said he was not considering joining Orange County’s action.

Supervisor Dianne Jacob made clear her stance, though.

“I’ve always supported the great working relationship between the Sheriff’s Department and federal law enforcement agencies, and it needs to continue,” she said in a statement. “I support the County joining the [sanctuary] lawsuit and look forward to this being on the next closed session agenda.” Jacob’s spokesman also said the supervisor supports asking about citizenship status on the 2020 census.

The Orange County vote followed moves by two cities in the county to pushback against the law.  The Los Alamitos City Council voted last week to adopt an ordinance that would exempt it from SB 54, or the California Values Act, and Yorba Linda’s Council decided to file an amicus brief to the federal lawsuit to show its support of the administration’s position.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department has vocally opposed the state law, opting to publicly post all inmate release information as a workaround to a provision in the California Values Act that forbids local law enforcement from alerting ICE to the release dates of unauthorized immigrants in jails unless they’ve committed one of several hundred crimes listed in the law.

In contrast, several cities in San Diego County have opted to become “welcoming cities” in recent years, which has little practical effect, but shows they intend to make immigrants feel welcome and integrated into communities. The Chula Vista City Council – which governs the second largest city in the county – voted in September 2017 to officially support The California Values Act.

San Diego law enforcement has long had a good relationship with federal law enforcement, including Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and Border Patrol, but the San Diego Sheriff’s Department has adamantly said it will follow state law, unless it is overturned.

“The Sheriff’s Department has and will continue to comply with the Trust, Truth and California Values Acts,” said Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Karen Stubkjaer in an e-mail, referring to earlier laws that also limit law enforcement officers’ involvement in immigration enforcement efforts. “Our deputies work hard to make our communities safer and we want to ensure all of our residents feel safe reporting crimes or coming forward as witnesses to criminal acts. The Sheriff has confidence in the justice system and will abide by the ruling when one is reached.  It would be inappropriate for us to comment further on a federal lawsuit against the state of California.”

Though the Orange County Sheriff’s Department made headlines this week when it announced it would post inmate release info online, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department has quietly been doing the same thing since 2017. It also posts information on arrest warrants, restraining orders served and inmate population reports. Stubkjaer said the information is posted online to boost transparency and to reduce the amount of time staffers spend on the phone answering questions about such information.

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