Trump hails California county that balked at sanctuary law

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions' Justice Department has filed suit to challenge California's "sanctuary state" legislation

Los Angeles (AFP) – US President Donald Trump on Wednesday backed Orange County supervisors joining a federal government lawsuit challenging California’s “sanctuary state” legislation protecting undocumented migrants.

The country lawmakers oppose the California Values Act, which prohibits local law enforcement from asking about immigration status and bars local authorities from detaining undocumented immigrants for federal authorities to pick up.

“My administration stands in solidarity with the brave citizens in Orange County defending their rights against California’s illegal and unconstitutional Sanctuary policies,” the president tweeted.

“California’s Sanctuary laws release known dangerous criminals into communities across the State. All citizens have the right to be protected by Federal law and strong borders.”

Officials in Orange County, a traditionally more conservative pocket of liberal California, say the law does not stop sheriff’s deputies from giving immigration authorities access to jails to interview inmates. 

Local law enforcement officials may also cooperate with the deportation of state convicts in prison or inmates in local jails being held for a list of serious offenses, the legislators say.     

Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel proposed a resolution passed on Tuesday condemning the state law, which she called “totally unconstitutional.” 

This prompted another supervisor, Shawn Nelson, to propose joining the Justice Department lawsuit, which was also passed. 

The votes came on the heels of a preliminary vote by the city council of Los Alamitos, located in the county, to “exempt” the city from the state law, drawing a rebuke from the American Civil Liberties Union, which has pledged to sue.

Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who represents Orange County, said the sanctuary law was “doing nothing more than attracting millions more people to come to this country and to consume the very wealth that is necessary for our quality of life.”

He said the “flow of illegals” had “brought down our quality of education,” as well as health care and housing, complaining that millions came to claim benefits in the United States. 

But Democratic state senator Kevin De Leon countered: “This kind of obsessive immigrant bashing is embarrassing to the county and its residents, and seems designed to court the approval of a racist president and his cronies.”

Undocumented immigrants may be entitled to emergency medical care, schooling and access to certain nutrition programs but they do not get welfare, social security, Medicare or Medicaid, access to Obamacare and children’s health insurance, disability support or food stamps.

Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens has announced that her department will begin publicly releasing information about the release of undocumented immigrants from the county’s jails. 

Hutchens opposed the state law because she felt it would hinder her department’s cooperation with federal authorities.    

Justice Department spokesman Devin O’Malley welcomed Orange County’s decision to support the suit over California’s “sanctuary state.” 

A spokesman for California’s Democratic Governor Jerry Brown said he was unlikely to react to the move.