OC Supervisors Consider Fighting California’s Sanctuary State Law

Jeff Antenore, Voice of OC Contributing Photographer

OC Supervisor Shawn Nelson at a county Board of Supervisors meeting in May 2017.

Orange County supervisors are expected to decide next week if they want to join a U.S. Justice Department lawsuit against California for its illegal immigration “sanctuary state” law or file their own lawsuit.

The county action was proposed Thursday by Supervisor Shawn Nelson, after another supervisor, Michelle Steel, suggested supervisors simply should go on the record opposing the sanctuary law.

Nelson’s lawsuit proposal is expected to be discussed in closed session at Tuesday’s supervisors meeting, and public comment will be heard before the item is considered.

“Supervisor Nelson is calling to enjoin enforcement of SB 54, which restricts local law enforcement officials from providing information to federal immigration authorities about the release date of removable criminal aliens in their custody; and AB 103 which imposes a state-run inspection and review scheme of the federal detention of aliens held in facilities pursuant to federal contracts,” Nelson’s office said in a Thursday news release announcing the effort.

“Both of these laws are pre-empted by Federal law. The state has no authority to target facilities holding federal detainees pursuant to a federal contract. Also, the state cannot direct county employees to refuse to engage in basic cooperation with federal immigration authorities that is contemplated by federal law,” Nelson said in the release.

“This legislation prevents law enforcement from removing criminals from our community and is a threat to public safety,” he added.

Nelson needs support from at least two other supervisors for the county to intervene against the sanctuary law.

Other supervisors and community groups didn’t immediately weigh in with their response to the proposed OC intervention.

SB 54, which took effect in January, limits the ability of California’s state and local law enforcement to detain, question and transfer people at the request of federal immigration officials.

One of the county supervisors, Andrew Do, is not expected to be at Tuesday’s supervisors’ meeting because he’ll be traveling that day, according to two people close to the county.

Nelson, a Republican, is running for Congress in the highly competitive 39th District, which includes Fullerton and other cities in northern Orange County.

His proposal comes after Los Alamitos City Council members voted 4-1 Monday night to exempt the city from the sanctuary law, an action that drew a packed crowd of residents and national headlines.

Nick Gerda covers county government and Santa Ana for Voice of OC. You can contact him at ngerda@voiceofoc.org.