Santa Clarita City Council members said they want to hear public comment on opting out of sanctuary state law at the anticipated May 8 council meeting before moving forward.
The council decided on April 10 to put discussion of Senate Bill 54 and Santa Clarita’s status as a non-sanctuary city on the May 8 meeting agenda. Now the council will decide on Tuesday 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.
City Councilman Cameron Smyth told the Signal on Friday that he hoped the discussion would be focused on the specific bill, and “not get into broader issues of immigration policy.”
“I certainly realize that it is a highly emotional issue,” he said. “But the council is not discussing federal immigration policy. It’s my hope that we are able to have a professional discussion without bringing in issues that aren’t relevant to the item, and we’re able to stay focused and have an honest policy discussion on the bill.”
Councilman Bob Kellar was the first to bring up the potential for Santa Clarita to agendize such a discussion at the March 27 meeting.
On Friday, he told the Signal he had heard from a number of residents who’d aired their support for opting out.
“I’ve had a number of emails, and the vast majority of them are in support of the city not continuing to follow the state in their sanctuary state law,” he said. In other words, most people want to opt out of that. So, we will see how things go on Tuesday. I expect it is going to be a pretty good turnout, and I expect there will be some emotion involved.”
Mayor Laurene Weste said she anticipated a large number of speakers on Tuesday, and that she wanted to hear everyone’s perspective before voicing her opinion.
“We can’t prejudge an issue,” she said. “I’m inclined to want to hear all of the constituency and we will wait to make a decision.”
Mayor Pro Tem Marsha McLean and Councilman Bill Miranda could not be reached for comment.
Several residents turned out during public comment on April 24 to discuss the matter. The comments were almost evenly split between opposing and supporting. Some, such as Logan Smith and Raagib Quraishi, opposed agendizing the item and wanted Santa Clarita to remain a “sanctuary city.”
Those opposed to S.B. 54 also expressed concerns, such as Kira Innis, who said at the meeting that one of her parents was an immigrant but she couldn’t condone illegal activity. Innis then urged the city to continue forth with the amicus brief.
Smyth previously told the Signal that 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 on April 11. “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 deliberated on agendizing the item when it was brought up in discussion on March 27 because he wanted to see what cities who contracted their police department, like Santa Clarita, were doing, and “compare apples to apples.”
Kellar said on April 11 that he planned 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.
Weste said on April 11 that 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.”