President Donald Trump expressed his support for California’s Orange County on Wednesday on the heels of news that its board voted to join the Justice Department’s lawsuit against the state’s sanctuary laws.
“My Administration stands in solidarity with the brave citizens in Orange County defending their rights against California’s illegal and unconstitutional Sanctuary policies,” the president wrote on Twitter. “California’s Sanctuary laws release known dangerous criminals into communities across the State. All citizens have the right to be protected by Federal law and strong borders.”
The Orange County Board of Supervisors voted 3-0 on Tuesday to join a lawsuit filed by the Justice Department earlier this month against California’s sanctuary policies. The vote came one day after attorneys general from 18 states filed a court brief in support of the lawsuit.
Los Alamitos, a small city in Orange County, made headlines last week when it voted to reject California’s sanctuary policies. The Los Alamitos vote triggered other cities to consider similar measures. The Orange County sheriff also moved to publicly defy the laws by publishing the release dates for inmates.
Sanctuary policies are enacted by town, city, and state officials in order to interfere with federal immigration enforcement authorities. The most common policy instructs local police and courts to not cooperate with requests by immigration officers to briefly detain inmates after their release so that officers can take them into custody.
“This legislation prevents law enforcement from removing criminals from our community and is a threat to public safety,” Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson said before the vote on Tuesday, according to Fox News.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has regularly lambasted sanctuary policies as unconstitutional. The 18 attorneys general who joined the Trump administration’s lawsuit on Monday wrote in the court brief that California’s sanctuary laws are preempted by a Supreme Court decision.
In the case of Arizona v. United State America’s highest court ruled that Arizona could not supersede federal law and seek to increase immigration enforcement on a local level. The attorneys point out that if Arizona couldn’t enact a law to increase enforcement of a federal law, California shouldn’t be able to enact one that decreases enforcement.
“Under the rationale of Arizona, this is an even easier case as California’s laws designed to interfere with or block federal immigration enforcement must also [be] preempted,” the court brief (PDF) states.
“I’ve spent my career fighting to uphold the rule of law while California’s sanctuary cities policy thumbs its nose at the rule of law,” South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson said in a news release accompanying the brief. “States cannot be allowed to ignore federal laws they don’t like, especially when doing so puts public safety at risk.”