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San Diego County Board of Supervisors votes to support sanctuary state lawsuit against California

Posted: 9:41 AM, Apr 17, 2018
Updated: 2018-04-18 01:20:10Z

SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego County Board of Supervisors has voted to support the Trump administration’s lawsuit against California’s sanctuary laws.

The board voted 3-1 Tuesday afternoon to support the lawsuit. 

The board directed that the County’s attorney to file an amicus brief supporting the federal lawsuit.

The deadline to file a brief passed, so Chairwoman Kristin Gaspar said the earliest the county can file a brief is if the ruling is appealed to a higher court.

RELATED: Escondido City Council votes to support sanctuary policy lawsuit

Supervisor Greg Cox was the only one opposed to supporting the lawsuit. Supervisor Ron Roberts wasn’t present for the vote.

Among the laws targeted by the legal action is SB 54, which limits cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities.

Supervisor Dianne Jacob led public opposition to the laws and said she agrees with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions that they are unconstitutional and undermine public safety.

RELATED:  Justice Department to sue California over 'sanctuary' laws

"This is a politically super-charged issue as you might imagine," Gaspar told Fox News. "We're talking about hundreds of emails pouring in from all sides. But let us not forget, let's take the emotion out of this. We're talking about following the constitutional laws of our land."

Two supervisors indicated they're opposed to joining the suit: Greg Cox, who said sheriff's deputies "should not be forced to carry out immigration duties," and Ron Roberts. But Roberts will not be at Tuesday's meeting due to a "long-planned trip."

"Had I attended, I would have urged my colleagues to stay out of this issue," Roberts said.

Local governments in recent weeks have taken varying approaches to weighing in on the sanctuary state case, from resolutions to voting to file lawsuits themselves.

RELATED:  San Diego church becomes 'sanctuary congregation' amid immigration debate

The city council in San Juan Capistrano, for instance, recently passed a resolution against SB 54. Resolutions are largely symbolic statements of a government's stance.

Aliso Viejo, Escondido and Mission Viejo are among the cities whose leaders have voted to file amicus briefs in support of the Trump administration's position. Such briefs are often submitted by those who have an interest in a court case but are not parties in the lawsuit.

The Orange County Board of Supervisors voted last month to join the lawsuit, while the Huntington Beach City Council voted recently to file its own suit.

The Los Alamitos City Council voted to "exempt" the city from the sanctuary laws.

"We want to do something more than a resolution, or at least I personally do, because that's seemingly meaningless," Gaspar said. "We'll be working in closed session with our legal team to really explore any and all options that we have as a county to provide meaningful input into this lawsuit."

The San Diego Organizing Project released the following statement after the decision:

"Today's harmful decision during a closed session shows that our Board of Supervisors is out of touch with the citizens of San Diego County. SB 54 is a crucial bill to protect all San Diego residents, both immigrants and citizens of all cultural backgrounds, from unwarranted interrogations, detainments and deportations. Our faith community will work tirelessly to elect true representatives who understand that we are better and stronger together."

Congressman Duncan Hunter also released a statement after the board voted:

“Today’s action was the very definition of leadership. In standing up against the irresponsible actions by the State of California, our County Supervisors who supported this action clearly demonstrated that their priorities are protecting those of us in San Diego County and not about politics. The fact of the matter is, when state and local law enforcement agencies outright refuse to share information to federal officials regarding criminal activity, our communities are unsafe and the rule of law is undermined. It’s not complicated. I have always been, and will continue to be, an advocate for state’s rights, but that’s not the issue. The U.S. Constitution clearly places border policy and our immigration laws within the purview of the federal government. State or local governments cannot just choose to ignore federal statutes because of a political agenda, especially when doing so places its citizens at risk by leaving criminals eligible for deportation in our communities. Our San Diego County Supervisors who took action today deserve our thanks and we need to hold every elected official accountable who does not demonstrate the same the type of leadership.”