Huntington Beach files lawsuit challenging California ‘sanctuary’ laws

A view of the end pier in Huntington Beach, Calif., on March 22
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Huntington Beach filed suit Wednesday in Orange County Superior Court against the state, governor and attorney general, challenging California’s “sanctuary” laws that provide expanded protection for immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

City Atty. Michael Gates filed the suit after the City Council gave approved the action in a 6-1 vote Monday night. Councilwoman Jill Hardy dissented.

The city joins a wave of opposition in Orange County to laws such as Senate Bill 54, which in many cases prohibits state and local police agencies from notifying federal officials when immigrants in their custody who may be subject to deportation are about to be released.


The lawsuit contends that SB 54, authored by state Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), is unconstitutional because it strips municipalities from taking certain actions and spending their general fund money on certain law enforcement.

The city is seeking to have the state cover its legal fees.

Last week, the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted to join a Trump administration lawsuit that contends such laws obstruct federal immigration law and thus violate the Constitution’s supremacy clause, which gives federal law precedence over state law.

The Fountain Valley City Council voted Tuesday night to file a court brief supporting the federal lawsuit.

The resistance trend began last month when the Los Alamitos City Council approved an ordinance to opt out of the sanctuary policies.

As more than 100 speakers passionately addressed Huntington Beach officials Monday about sanctuary laws and immigrants, Mayor Pro Tem Erik Peterson said the lawsuit was about retaining local control, not about immigration.