City Council agendizes discussion on S.B. 54, sanctuary cities

Santa Clarita City Hall is located on the 23900 block of Valencia Blvd. File Photo

Santa Clarita City Council members said Tuesday it would put Senate Bill 54 and its status as a non-sanctuary city on the May 8 meeting agenda. The council will decide if it wants to file an amicus brief in support of a national lawsuit against the state of California regarding S.B. 54, also known as the California Values Act.

The act took effect Jan. 1, and limits cooperation between California law enforcement and federal immigration authorities, protecting immigrants residing in California during a time when federal immigration authorities are cracking down on illegal residency.

City Councilman Bob Kellar previously discussed the potential for Santa Clarita to agendize such a discussion around Senate Bill 54 and whether Santa Clarita should have its own response at the March 27 meeting.

On March 19, the Orange County city of Los Alamitos voted on an anti-sanctuary ordinance that would exempt the city from the California Values Act. The city is filing an amicus brief to join the Trump administration lawsuit, and other Orange County leaders are considering following suit.

Councilman Cameron Smyth said discussing Senate Bill 54 in conjunction with other California legislation, such as Assembly Bill 109, Proposition 47 and Proposition 57, was important. Assembly Bill 109, Proposition 47 and Proposition 57 realigned county prisons, reduced certain non-violent felonies to misdemeanors and hastened the release of some non-violent offenders from prisons.

“This is impacting all cities, and it’s important to know that with S.B. 54, you’re not talking about DREAMERs or the DACA kids or families who have come here to make a better life for themselves,” he said. “There are people who’ve been arrested for committing a crime and are not here legally. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to discuss the merits of (if we should notify federal officials of) people who have come who are not in this country legally and have committed a crime. “

Smyth previously deliberated on agendizing the item right away because he wanted to see what cities who contracted their police department, like Santa Clarita, were doing, and “compare apples to apples.”

Kellar said he met with the city attorney to discuss the matter since he broached the topic on March 27. He plans to “join in on a standpoint of support for the lawsuit that the U.S. government has initiated toward the state of California” after also fielding community feedback on May 8. The councilman said many Santa Clarita citizens have reached out to say they do not support California’s sanctuary state determination.

“When it comes to the multitude of bills that have been coming out of Sacramento, I openly tell you I am a retired police officer and I have seen the results of trying to pacify (criminals) fail to continue to uphold the law,” he said. “All you’re doing is creating a bigger and bigger problem. Crime has gone up substantially in the state of California, and it’s time that we start rethinking some of these decisions and protect American citizens.”

Mayor Laurene Weste said Wednesday she was looking forward to having a “civilized discussion” on the matter. She personally believed state legislators should allow local governments to make their own decisions, but added, “the discussion will have to evolve on what we are and aren’t potentially able to do, and we’ll see if the amicus brief is something that would be appropriate.”

Smyth, a former assemblyman who represented Santa Clarita in the Legislature, shared concerns about policy-making in the state’s capitol.

“Cities have reached a tipping point with Sacramento’s continual efforts to consolidate power and erode local control,” Smyth said.

Smyth will be out of town for the April 24 meeting, so the City Council will discuss the possibility of an amicus brief at its next meeting on May 8.

Mayor Pro Tem Marsha McLean declined comment and Councilman Bill Miranda could not be reached.

The city also passed supporting the Reducing Crime and Keeping California Safe Act of 2018, a response to Prop 47 and Prop 57, through its consent calendar at the Tuesday meeting.

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