Officials in California's Orange County voted Tuesday to join a lawsuit from the Trump administration fighting the state's "sanctuary city" laws, hours after the county sheriff's department anounced its own methods of pushing back against the legislation aimed at protecting illegal immigrants. The City Council in Los Alamitos voted last week on an ordinance to exempt the city in northern Orange County from the state law. The sheriff's department used to screen inmates in the county's jails to help Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents identify those subject to deportation but had to stop after the state law passed.
"This is in response to SB-54 limiting our ability to communicate with federal authorities and our concern that criminals are being released to the street when there's another avenue to safeguard the community by handing them over (to ICE for potential deportation)", Orange County Undersheriff Don Barnes said.
The Orange County Supervisors will hold public debates Tuesday; weighing whether the county should be the first in the state to take legal action against California's guidelines that limit local law enforcement's interaction with federal immigration agents.
Orange County, which is home to Disneyland and wealthy beach communities where many people holiday, has a five-member board of supervisors, and all are Republican.
Although it broke 50-45 for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, Orange County is something of a conservative enclave in deep-blue California.
California passed the sanctuary law previous year to try to protect immigrants from stepped-up deportations under the Trump administration.
Supporters argue that the measure would encourage immigrants to report crime without fearing deportation, while critics say local police should provide more help to federal authorities.
A few other Orange County cities are considering resolutions and other moves to voice their opposition to the law.
Legal experts and immigrant advocates have said cities can not simply opt out of state law and will face lawsuits if they try.
But the idea that Orange County would consider taking such a stand is concerning to immigrant advocates, he said.
"We can not allow this to happen in Orange County and we need to protect our families and our homes here in Orange County", said another Orange County Supervisor.