REGION — The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted 3-1 on Tuesday to throw its support behind a lawsuit filed by the Trump administration that challenges the state’s so-called sanctuary laws, despite a throng of protesters urging the board to reject it.
With Supervisor Ron Roberts absent, the supervisors emerged from closed session April 17 and announced their decision, which was to direct the County Counsel to file an amicus brief in support of the lawsuit at the earliest point possible, possibly when the lawsuit is appealed.
Supervisor Dianne Jacob said that she expects the lawsuit to prevail, and they would file when the state appeals the decision. Board Chairwoman Kristin Gaspar and Supervisor Bill Horn joined her in voting in support of the lawsuit, while Dist. 1 Supervisor Greg Cox voted against it.
“The board’s vote is a largely symbolic move that will create fear and divisiveness in our region, waste taxpayer funds and create distrust of law enforcement and local government,” Cox told reporters.
Jacob and Gaspar had differing views.
“We’re talking about people who are crossing the border illegally, coming into this county and committing a crime and them being let loose probably to commit another crime,” said Jacob, whose district covers much of East San County. She had been the most vocal supporter of the lawsuit. “That creates a public-safety issue and creates a problem in our neighborhoods.”
She worried about terrorists crossing the border illegally, she said.
“This is a different day than it was 20, 30, 40 years ago,” Jacob said. “That’s why it was important for us to stand up, as controversial as it was.
Gaspar, at a news conference announcing the decision, displayed two stacks of emails she had received. Those supporting the decision outnumbered the emails opposing it by a wide margin.
Inside of the supervisors chambers, however, speakers in opposition to the board supporting the lawsuit outnumbered those speaking in support by a 3-1 margin. Thirty-nine speakers urged the board to not support the lawsuit, which they said would tear apart families and keep many immigrants from reporting crimes because of fear of deportation.
“California is the sixth largest economy in the word and that reason is because immigrant workers and families are valued here for many reasons including the contributions they provide to this economy,” said David Garcias, president of the Service Employees International Union Local 221, one of the region’s most powerful labor unions. “I believe you are on the wrong side of history, and this is going to affect your legacy.”
Milad Tarabi, a member of the group San Diego Border Dreamers, said that the supervisors’ decision to join the lawsuit would jeopardize public safety by moving more immigrants into the shadows, making it less likely they will report crimes.
“The community members are the eyes and ears of the police department, they are an invaluable resource,” Tarabi said. “When we are in fear of contacting law enforcement because of the fear of being deported or detained, that will hurt our law enforcement and actually jeopardize our public safety.”
The Trump administration filed a suit against three California laws, although much of the focus has been on Senate Bill 54, known as the “California Values Act,” which prohibits local law enforcement from sharing information about undocumented immigrants — including their release from custody.
Assembly Bill 103 prohibits local governments across California from adding new contracts with the federal government for civil immigration detention or expanding old ones.
AB 450 prohibits employers from voluntarily allowing immigration officials into nonpublic areas of the workplace unless the officers have judicial warrants and requires employers to notify employees about upcoming immigration inspections.
San Diego County becomes the second county in Southern California to vote to support the lawsuit. Orange County did so in March and several cities — including Los Alamitos and Mission Viejo — have taken similar actions.
Los Alamitos voted this month to exempt itself from the state laws.