2018-07-12 / Letters to the Editor

Court rulings impact sanctuary law issue

To the editor:

The June 21 article in The Jamestown Press, “Council leaning against sanctuary law” cites solicitor Peter Ruggiero’s legal opinion opposing an immigrant protection ordinance because it conflicts with federal law.

His concerns stemmed from the then pending Department of Justice lawsuit US v. California, which sought an injunction against SB 54, the California Values Act, on the grounds it violated federal law and was unconstitutional.

On July 6, a federal judge ruled in favor of the California Values Act and denied the U.S. government’s motion for an injunction. In rejecting the DOJ’s argument that the law obstructed federal law enforcement, the court ruled “standing aside does not equate to standing in the way” and it is “entirely reasonable for the state to determine that assisting immigration enforcement ... is a detrimental use of state law enforcement resources.”

The federal government also argued the law violated federal law 8 U.S. Code § 1373 because it restricted local law enforcement agencies from sharing release dates and home and work addresses as well as restricted federal officials access to a suspect in custody unless they had a judicial warrant.

However, two federal courts already ruled such policies do not violate federal law. A U.S. District Court judge in California ruled 8 U.S.C. § 1373(a) does not require local law enforcement to share information concerning an inmate’s release date” while another district court ruled policies that restrict local police from sharing not only release dates but also addresses do not violate federal law.

These rulings are important not only for California but for all of the more than 300 state and local municipalities and towns who have adopted immigrant protection laws or ordinances, which increase positive community relations between police and their towns by maintaining community safety and which prevent local police from assisting the federal government in indiscriminate detention and deportation.

These court decisions are extremely important and timely for states, municipalities, and towns currently working to adopt such laws.

Helen O’Grady
Schooner Avenue

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