Orange County

Santa Ana Committed to Sanctuary Policies in Increasingly Hostile Orange County

"These other policies of working with the federal government, ICE, unfortunately it chills"

In Orange County, the immigration debate has quickly turned into a revolt of sorts against the state, but despite that, Santa Ana has no regrets about its support for "sanctuary" policies.

Three days before President Trump took office, the city passed a resolution declaring Santa Ana a "sanctuary" city. What was initially a symbolic statement is now a blueprint for how Santa Ana officials run the predominantly Hispanic city.

California echoed Santa Ana by passing Senate Bill 54 - the California Values Act - which limits how much local police can help federal immigration authorities.

College student Kassandra Lozano is one of the Santa Ana residents who feel such sanctuary policies give people peace of mind. "I guess people feel safe here and it gives them an opportunity to live life," she said.

But other parts of the county don't see it that way. What began as a proposed resolution in Los Alamitos quickly had a domino effect.

On Monday, Los Alamitos' City Council passed an ordinance to exempt the city from SB-54. On that same day, the Orange County Sheriff's Department decided to post inmate release dates online, including those of undocumented people.

Those moves quickly rippled outward and by Tuesday, the Orange County Board of Supervisors had voted 4-0 to join the U.S. Justice Department's lawsuit against the state over its sanctuary policies.

Mission Viejo followed suit later that night, councilmembers voting unanimously to support Los Alamitos' stance. Huntington Beach is now also scheduled to discuss the issue at its council meeting next week.

It's a rebuke of state law that has drawn praise from President Donald Trump, who tweeted, "My Administration stands in solidarity with the brave citizens in Orange County defending their rights against California's illegal and unconstitutional Sanctuary policies."

But Santa Ana officials have already felt the ire of the federal government, which threatened to pull funding over the city's sanctuary policies.

Santa Ana initially lost at $300,000-a-month jail contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but it made it up in reserves. Since then, it lost one police grant of $90,000 that would have been used toward law enforcement programs.

Yet the city remains undeterred.

"These other policies of working with the federal government, ICE, unfortunately it chills," said councilmember Vicente Sarmiento. "It has a chilling effect on reporting crimes, victims reporting crimes."

For now, bolstered by the conviction that its sanctuary policies make residents safer, Santa Ana remains a city committed to protecting its undocumented immigrants in a county that seems to be growing increasingly hostile.

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