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California city considers defying statewide sanctuary law

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Los Alamitos, a city in Southern California, is considering passing an ordinance to defy statewide “sanctuary” laws and to cooperate with the federal government on combating illegal immigration. (2016 file photo/Sandy Huffaker/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s a Russian nesting doll of legislative defiance over illegal immigration.

A city in Southern California is considering passing an ordinance to defy statewide “sanctuary” laws and to cooperate with the federal government on combating illegal immigration.

Los Alamitos, a city of fewer than 12,000 about 20 miles southeast of Los Angeles, will vote Monday on an ordinance that would exempt it from the California Values Act, SB 54.

The Los Alamitos ordinance says that the California Voters Act “may be in direct conflict with federal laws and the Constitution of the United States” and says that the city council “finds that it is impossible to honor our oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

The California Values Act, which took effect Jan. 1, limits communication between state and local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities, and prevents criminals who are in the country illegally from being held longer than a citizen would be for the same crime.

California lawmakers saw the act as a response to the Trump administration’s stance on illegal immigration.

Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Thomas Homan said that California’s sanctuary laws would lead to a spike in illegal immigration in the state and that “more people are going to die trying to come to this country because they think they can get to a state or a city where they’re going to be shielded from immigration enforcement.”

On March 6, the U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit in federal court in Sacramento to challenge the California Values Act, as well as two other state immigration laws — one that bans employers from cooperation with immigration officials, and one allowing for the state to inspect federal immigration detention centers.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has compared the state sanctuary laws to “a law forbidding employers from cooperating with OSHA in ensuring workplace safety. Or the EPA, looking for a polluter.” He said the thought of these hypothetical laws would “obviously be absurd” but would be “no different in principle from this new law enacted by California.”

Annie Lai, the co-director of the Immigrant Rights Clinic at UC Irvine, warned that it looked like the Los Alamitos City Council members were “setting themselves up for litigation.”

The vote is scheduled to take place at 6 p.m. Monday.

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