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Judge to rule on whether Huntington Beach immigration lawsuit can progress

Judge to rule on whether Huntington Beach immigration lawsuit can progress
Demonstrators protest Senate Bill 54, the California "sanctuary state" law, during the Huntington Beach City Council meeting April 2. (File Photo)

An Orange County Superior Court judge will rule next week on whether Huntington Beach’s lawsuit opposing California’s “sanctuary state” protections for undocumented immigrants can move forward this summer.

Deputy Atty. Gen. Jonathan Eisenberg filed a motion Friday on behalf of the state attorney general in an effort to halt the city's lawsuit against the state and its attorney general, Xavier Becerra.

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The delay, he argued, would be “more efficient” and avoid the possibility of “unnecessary duplication” because two similar federal cases are moving through the federal legal system.

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City Attorney Michael Gates told Judge James Crandall in a conference Monday that the city’s lawsuit differs from the federal lawsuits because Huntington Beach is governed by a city charter rather than state general law.

A new hearing is scheduled to take place July 19 in Orange County Superior Court.

If Crandall rules in the city’s favor, Gates explained, a hearing would take place in August.

Otherwise Crandall could delay the matter if he believes the federal court decisions would void the city’s case.

The lawsuit contends that SB 54, authored by state Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), is “unconstitutionally overreaching.”

Mayor Mike Posey and Mayor Pro Tem Erik Peterson proposed the lawsuit to "seek relief" from the state's sanctuary policies. Gates sued in April with 6-1 approval from the City Council. Councilwoman Jill Hardy dissented.

Huntington Beach joined a wave of Orange County opposition to Senate Bill 54, which, in many cases, prohibits state and local police agencies from notifying federal officials about the impending release of in-custody immigrants who may be deported.

Several area cities pushed against the sanctuary laws, starting in March, when the Los Alamitos City Council passed an ordinance opting out.

In addition, the county Board of Supervisors voted to join a Trump administration lawsuit that contends the laws obstruct federal immigration in violation of the Constitution's supremacy clause, which gives federal law precedence over state law.

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