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Huntington Beach files expected lawsuit against state’s ‘sanctuary’ immigration laws

Opponents of Senate Bill 54, or the California Sanctuary State Bill, hold up signs during a Huntingt
Opponents of Senate Bill 54, a California “sanctuary state” law, demonstrate during Monday’s Huntington Beach City Council meeting.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

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

City Attorney Michael Gates filed the suit after the City Council gave its approval in a 6-1 vote Monday night. Councilwoman Jill Hardy dissented.

The city joined 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 by stripping 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 attorneys fees.

Last week the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted to join a Trump administration lawsuit that says 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 undocumented immigrants, Mayor Pro Tem Erik Peterson said the lawsuit is about retaining local control, not about immigration.

“Anytime they try to claim state law that’ll affect us, we fight them,” Peterson said.

Twitter: @vegapriscella