CARLSBAD — In a rather calm and civil discussion and public comment, the Carlsbad City Council voted, 4-1, on May 21 to oppose California’s sanctuary cities.
The city will bring forward a resolution in the coming weeks to oppose the controversial Senate Bill 54, also known as the California Values Act, and will join a pending lawsuit against the state by filing an amicus brief when or if the case reaches the appellate level.
The U.S. Department of Justice is suing the state over SB 54 and two other bills, claiming it prevents local law enforcement agencies from interacting with federal immigration agencies.
Mayor Matt Hall and Councilmen Keith Blackburn, Michael Schumacher and Mark Packard said they support the action for public safety reasons. Hall said the inability for local and federal law enforcement entities to communicate puts the public at risk from illegal immigrants who are criminals.
Blackburn placed the item on the agenda, saying many residents have asked him about the issue and the council’s position.
“The laws are more difficult to enforce,” Hall said. “No one agency can keep us safe. It’s many agencies working collaboratively to keep us safe.”
Councilwoman Cori Schumacher (no relation), citing SB 54, said the bill allows for such communication for more than 800 crimes, whether felony or “wobblers,” which are either a gross misdemeanor or felony. She was in favor of the city remaining neutral and taking no action.
Schumacher slammed her colleagues saying the issue was politically motivated.
“Weighing in on this is purely political,” she said. “I support the state and federal process in the judicial system.”
Carlsbad is the latest municipality to jump into the national debate. Recently, Escondido and San Diego County also sided with the U.S. Department of Justice, while the cities of San Diego, National City and Chula Vista are supporting the state.
About 40 people were in attendance with most of the 17 speakers supporting SB 54. The mood was in stark contrast compared to the city of Escondido several weeks ago, where supporters and opponents numbered about 200 and were much more animated during the five-hour meeting.
Felicia Gomez, policy coordinator for the California Immigrant Policy Center, said targeting immigrants reduces trust and interaction with law enforcement. She cited a University of California, San Diego study noting 60.8 percent of illegal immigrants don’t report a crime because they fear they will be arrested and deported.
Resident Laura Drellshek said the issue should remain between the federal government and state.
“I don’t want you to speak for me on this,” she added.
However, opponents of SB 54 said it allows illegal immigrants with criminal backgrounds to run free unchecked and is a drain on resources, which should be for citizens or those who have immigrated legally.
“This is about public safety, not racism,” said Didi Mendez, who opposes SB 54. “The state shields illegal alien criminals who commit crimes.”
Steve Puterski covers Carlsbad and Vista. For tips or story ideas, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @StevePuterski.