California’s Sanctuary State Laws

President Trump has been a strong proponent for strict enforcement of immigration laws since his presidential campaign began. He has called for building a southern border wall between Mexico and the U.S., ending “chain migration,” and ending the “catch and release” concept that allowed immigration officials to release undocumented individuals by their discretion. He has urged, and nearly forced all state government agencies to cooperate with federal immigration agencies in finding and detaining undocumented people. Trump’s aggressive policies have caused a stir among some states, including California, who declared itself a “sanctuary state.” This has escalated the debate between the Trump administration and states with these policies.

California’s governor passed several bills last year that thwarted Trump’s wish for federal agencies to work in conjunction with local law enforcement in detaining undocumented people. Those bills include prohibiting employers from cooperating with federal immigration officers and requires the employer to notify the employees of a workplace inspection. Another bill prohibits local enforcement of notifying federal officers the release date of undocumented individuals, thus thwarting their ability to transfer these individuals straight into immigration custody.

The Trump administration has vehemently opposed this idea of a sanctuary state and even issued a policy memo threatening to reduce or cancel federal funding if the states continued to enforce their sanctuary state laws. However, that was overturned by a federal judge. Since that time, the Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against the state of California. At the same time, certain cities within California have been voting to opt out of California’s sanctuary laws. This would mean that the cities would not have to comply with California’s bills, and rather work with federal agencies to detain undocumented people. Some of those cities include, Escondido, San Juan Capistrano, and various other cities in Orange County.

The political battle continues to rage across the U.S., and also locally in our state of California. More recently, the Trump administration will be sending the National Guard to U.S. border cities to increase border security. Presidents Obama and Bush have also utilized the National Guard in the past, with mixed results. What the National Guard will be doing at these border towns this time around, remains to be seen. What is certain, is that it has become more important than ever for undocumented individuals to remain vigilant and understand their rights.