Dominos fall: Another California city bails on sanctuary status

The state of California has an increasingly loud rebellion on its hands and the center of all the action is Orange County. After Los Alamitos (and the county government itself) took action to declare themselves exempt from sanctuary state rules, the city of Huntington Beach has jumped on the bandwagon. The city council there has voted by a six to one margin to enter a lawsuit against the state. (CBS Los Angeles)

Another Orange County city is joining the fight against sanctuary city status.

The Huntington Beach City Council voted 6 to 1 to sue the state over SB 54 — the Senate bill that would protect undocumented immigrants by limiting the cooperation between local police and ICE agents.

More than 100 people were at the meeting to tell the council they wanted to join the Orange County lawsuit, just days after Los Alamitos became the first city in Orange County to leave their sanctuary city status behind.

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher could barely be heard over the hecklers.

Their Congressman, Dana Rohrabacher, was on hand to tell the people who showed up for the vote that anyone who supports the state’s sanctuary policies is, “betraying the American people.”

One thing that every book on military strategy will tell you is that you should avoid fighting a war on two fronts simultaneously if at all possible. (Just ask Napoleon or the Nazis.) That’s the situation that California Governor Jerry Brown and the state legislature find themselves in at the moment. The federal government is suing them to overturn three different sanctuary city laws, and now they have cities and at least one county taking them to court from inside their own borders.

This is a very necessary fight and it’s one which holds potential repercussions which could be felt all across the country. The real questions the courts will have to wrestle with involve issues of supremacy and constitutional obligations. It’s already been established that the federal government can’t force state and local officials to enforce federal law, as defined under the Tenth Amendment. But at the same time, state and local officials are not allowed to obstruct justice and hinder the feds from doing their jobs either. Further, the courts have already considered the question of banning local law enforcement from cooperating with federal officials if they wish to. As it was explained at Heritage last year, this will prove to be a losing argument for California.

Sessions is simply trying to get states to not obstruct federal enforcement. That includes abiding by the ban contained in Section 1373. Sanctuary cities are trying to prevent federal officials from finding out about criminal alien murderers, rapists, and other violent criminals that these cities would apparently rather release than have picked up and deported so they cannot further victimize Americans. Section 1373 doesn’t force local law enforcement officials to notify federal officials when they detain an illegal alien; It simply says that local governments can’t ban law enforcement officials from doing so.

The spurious legal argument that §1373 violates the anti-commandeering principle was raised by the City of New York in a lawsuit against the federal government only 11 days after the provision became federal law. New York also had a policy in place that forbade city officials from transmitting information on the immigration status of any individual to federal immigration authorities. In City of New York v. U.S. (1999), the Second Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the city’s case because the federal law was constitutional and well within congressional authority on immigration.

This question has been heard in both Arizona and New York, and each time the states have lost when they tried to prevent local law enforcement from cooperating with federal officials engaged in the work of enforcing immigration law. Perhaps California can find a sympathetic ear in the Ninth Circuit to take up their cause, but there’s enough precedent out there for the Supreme Court to strike it down. And if that happens, all of the other sanctuary cities in the country will be put on notice.