Golden State Now Sanctuary State

Illustration By Andrew Khanian

Illustration By Andrew Khanian

On Thursday, Oct. 5, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the California Values Act, marking openly defiant action against President Donald Trump and his immigration policy. The bill officially designates California to be a "sanctuary state," forbidding state and local law enforcement agencies from holding, questioning, or sharing information about individuals per the request of federal immigration authorities. The bill also stops law enforcement in California from asking about people's immigration statuses.

Before this legislation, the label of "sanctuary city" has mainly been symbolic—a message of political support for immigrants. But cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles have recently put those messages into action, cutting ties with federal immigration officers and increasing efforts to build up social services for undocumented immigrants.

Many Santa Monica College students have seen Governor Brown's decision as a positive development. "I think it’s important to protect people who are coming here to escape really harsh realities in other countries where they're coming from,” said Allegra Falluca-Ruiz, a business student at SMC. “To be protected in California, its great, in my personal opinion, because not everybody can be protected.”

SMC Early Childhood/Education Major Katharina Reines also agrees with the decision, believing California has an obligation to help its undocumented immigrants. "I think it’s really brave, it’s a smart move, the states have to think about their own issues and the needs of their people,” she said. “States are so different, they should be able to control their own immigration.” 

More importantly for Reines, the bill will send a message that "shows to people living here that the state knows their fears, and they are going to address them.” 

Reines also noted the precedence of California's decisions influencing the rest of the country. “I think this will have a good impact; it could open the doors for other states to address the needs of their immigration population,” Reines said. “Other states might be feeling the same way; less influential states might become more compelled to do the same, knowing they're not alone and they'd be doing it with someone bigger like California.”

The bill is set to take effect in January of 2018. Governor Brown signed The California Values Act, also known as Senate Bill 54, under threat of retaliation by the Trump Administration. President Trump previously created an executive order on immigration, ordering the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department to stop cities who do not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement from receiving federal funds, but Judge H. Orrick ruled that the executive order was unconstitutional on April 25th earlier this year.

Previous ruling in courts have determined that, based upon the Tenth Amendment, the federal government can’t compel local authorities to enforce their laws. But acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Enforcement Thomas Homan denounced California's decision, saying his agency “would have no choice but to conduct at-large arrests in local neighborhoods and at work sites.”

Reines did not believe there was too much reason to be concerned, saying that by making threats, "it shows they’re being pushed into a corner."

As the country awaits the Trump Administration's immigration plan that is expected to be released this week, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders condemned Brown’s decision, stating, “I hope California will push back on their governor’s, I think, irresponsible decision going forward.”