9th Circuit upholds SB 54, “Sanctuary State law”


April 18, 2019

9th Circuit upholds SB 54, “Sanctuary State law”

Court deals Trump another defeat on Sanctuary;
Immigrant rights groups will continue fight to expose injustice of detention

San Francisco, CA – Today, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the Trump administration’s attempt to suspend California’s sanctuary state law, known as the CA Values Act or SB 54, which limits local and state law enforcement from acting as deportation agents. The panel also left intact the vast majority of AB 103, a “Dignity, Not Detention” law that requires oversight of immigration jails from the California Attorney General. Finally, the panel maintained a lower court’s ruling on a third law, AB 450, the Immigrant Worker Protection Act, which upheld a provision that requires employers to notify workers of upcoming I-9 inspections but enjoined other worker protections.

In response to the court’s decision, the steering committee of the ICE Out of California coalition, including Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, California Immigrant Policy Center, California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, and National Day Laborer Organizing Network, issued the following statement:

“Today’s ruling marks a defeat for the Trump administration’s hateful and discriminatory agenda.

With the “sanctuary state” law upheld in full, it is imperative for local governments to separate themselves from the inhumane business of detaining and deporting community members. With the core of AB 103 upheld, we will redouble our efforts to monitor and expose ICE’s immoral abuses in immigration jails and prisons. We will also continue to fight for the rights of all workers, including immigrants, and will demand that employers comply with the notice provision for workers and voluntarily adopt the other protections in AB 103.

The legal question at the heart of this lawsuit is well-settled across the ideological spectrum: the federal government cannot force local governments to do its dirty work.”

The federal government now has the option of appealing the case to a larger panel at the Ninth Circuit or to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Prior decisions by conservative Supreme Court justices have upheld the ability of states to refuse participation in executing a federal regulatory scheme under the Tenth Amendment.

About the laws the Trump administration is challenging:

In 2017, California passed several laws to protect residents from the Trump administration’s cruel deportation machine. In March 2018, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions sued California to challenge specific sections of three of these pro-immigrant laws. Dozens of local and state governments filed friend-of-the-court briefs in support of California’s position, as local communities organized and mobilized.

In July 2018, U.S. District Judge John Mendez, a George W. Bush appointee, denied the Trump administration’s request for an injunction blocking parts of the pro-immigrant laws. Days later, Judge Mendez proceeded to throw out most of the federal government’s case, a significant legal defeat. See U.S. v. State of California, et. al, 2:18-cv-00490-JAM-KJN.

About the pro-immigrant laws the Trump administration is attacking:

SB 54 (de León), the “Sanctuary State” law or the California Values Act, sets a minimum standard across the state to limit local and state law enforcement from acting as deportation agents. This helps protect due process for everyone – including immigrants. “Sanctuary” policies like SB 54 have successfully reduced deportations. While an organization designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center attempted to orchestrate opposition to SB 54 in certain areas of the state, polling has found a solid majority of voters support the “sanctuary state” law.

AB 103, a Dignity, Not Detention law, challenges the indignity of detention, requiring the California Attorney General to monitor all facilities in the state, which have come under increasing scrutiny for serious abuses, and prohibiting the expansion of detention facilities operated by local governments. Specifically, AB 103 requires the Attorney General review: (1) conditions of confinement; (2) the standard of care and due process provided to detainees at the facility; and (3) the circumstances surrounding apprehension and transfer of detainees to the facility; this is the only part of the law which the Ninth Circuit enjoined.  Profits of private prison companies have skyrocketed under the Trump administration.

AB 450 (Chiu), the Immigrant Worker Protection Act, AB 450, imposes various requirements on public and private employers in handling immigration worksite enforcement actions. The Trump administration’s lawsuit challenged AB 450 with respect to private employers, but not public employers. AB 450’s requirement that employers notify employees when immigration paperwork, i.e., I-9 forms, are reviewed by ICE, remains in effect for all employers. While the Ninth Circuit agreed with Judge Mendez’s decision to temporarily suspended other provisions of the law for private employers, private employers can still choose to deny ICE access to private areas of the worksite and private employee records without a warrant.


Media contact:

Angela Chan
(415) 848-7719

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