A California appeals court on Friday ruled that a state law limiting police collaboration with federal immigration agents doesn't interfere with a charter city's right to run its own police force.
The decision reverses an Orange County judge's 2018 ruling that cities that create their own charters, like Huntington Beach, have greater autonomy.
The seaside city of 200,000 people sued claiming that California's so-called immigrant sanctuary law interfered with its authority to enforce local laws and regulations.
California passed the law following President Donald Trump's crackdown on illegal immigration, limiting police collaboration with federal deportation agents.
The law was hailed as a victory by immigrant advocates seeking to encourage immigrant communities to trust in local police officers and report crime. But critics decried the law, saying it makes it harder to deport immigrants who commit crimes and leads law enforcement to release them back into communities.
In California, some cities have their own charters and others follow the state's general law.
Huntington Beach argued that cities that create their own charters to have a greater say over local affairs shouldn't be subject to the law since it relates to local policing.
Jessica Karp Bansal, a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, welcomed the decision, which finds that the treatment of immigrants is a statewide concern.
“It is a very straightforward question: Is there a public interest the state has in regulating this? And the court is like, of course,” she said.
Michael Gates, Huntington Beach’s city attorney, said he will discuss the decision with city officials and may consider taking the case to California's Supreme Court.
He said he wants to fight on behalf of charter cities, otherwise, “the State will eventually literally be able to dictate every aspect of local governance, which would render local governance pointless.”
A message seeking comment was sent to the California Attorney General’s office.