The debate over California's immigration laws flared Tuesday night in Santa Clarita, where a five-member City Council voted unanimously to file an amicus brief against California's so-called sanctuary law, supporting the federal lawsuit against the state by the Trump administration.
Santa Clarita could become the first city in Los Angeles County to officially oppose SB 54, joining a handful of municipalities elsewhere in Southern California that have challenged the law since Gov. Jerry Brown signed it in October.
The council chambers was packed Tuesday night, with people standing in aisles and doorways and spilling out into an overflow room as 200 had signed up to speak, the Los Angeles Times reported. Many wore red "Make America Great Again" caps.
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Some said Senate Bill 54, which limits cooperation by local law enforcement with federal immigration authorities, would promote criminality, while others said it would make communities safer. Some cited legal explanations for why the law violates the Constitution, while others argued California was within its rights.
In March, Los Alamitos approved an ordinance claiming exemption from SB 54. That same month, Orange County signed on to the federal lawsuit against California over SB 54 and other laws protecting immigrants. Huntington Beach has also sued California in state court.
Two weeks ago, a resolution by San Dimas City Councilman Ryan Vienna to oppose SB 54 failed, though he has personally filed a brief supporting the federal lawsuit, according to The Times.
Outside the City Council chambers Tuesday afternoon, about 150 demonstrators and counter-demonstrators lined up ahead of the meeting. On one side of the building, protesters opposed to the resolution chanted "No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here."
On the other side, counter-demonstrators wearing "We (heart) I.C.E." pins and President Trump neckties waved American flags and sang the national anthem.
SB 54, which went into effect Jan. 1, prohibits state and local police agencies from notifying federal authorities in many cases when individuals potentially subject to deportation are about to be released from custody.
The measure voted on Tuesday night is largely symbolic. Santa Clarita contracts with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department for law enforcement services and is bound by that department's policies, including on immigration.