Settlement with community group repeals city ordinance that defied ‘sanctuary state’ law
LOS ALAMITOS — The Los Alamitos City Council tonight voted to repeal its ordinance that claimed the city is exempt from the California Values Act, also known as the “sanctuary state” law and SB54.
The California Values Act, which went into effect on January 1, 2018, limits local law enforcement’s collaboration with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and federal deportation programs.
The City of Los Alamitos claimed when it passed its anti-California Values Act ordinance that the state law was unconstitutional. That stance has since been found invalid by both federal and state courts, including in a California Court of Appeal ruling on a similar stance taken by the City of Huntington Beach.
Los Alamitos’s repeal of its ordinance is in accord with a settlement agreement it reached with the Los Alamitos Community United organization that sued the city over the ordinance.
Samuel Pullen, who is a member of Community United and the pastor of the local Community Congregational United Church of Christ, addressed the Los Alamitos City Council earlier this month when it took its initial vote to repeal the ordinance. He said the city measure had caused divisiveness in Los Alamitos and ill will toward immigrants.
“My religious tradition teaches that we should welcome immigrants, for we were once immigrants who were oppressed,” said Pullen, who is a named plaintiff in the lawsuit. “I look forward to collaborating with you to rebuild a community that is safe, fair, inclusive, respects the diversity of perspectives, and the dignity of every person. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must put aside differences and seek common ground. We are willing to roll up our sleeves and focus on the most pressing needs of our community.”
The settlement resolves the lawsuit against the city that was filed in 2018 by the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, the national ACLU Foundation, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), and the law firm Latham & Watkins.
“We are pleased the city has reversed its unlawful attempt to exempt itself from the California Values Act and heeded the calls of local residents to begin to restore trust and respect among all residents, regardless of immigration status,” said ACLU SoCal Senior Staff Attorney Jessica Karp Bansal.
As part of the settlement, the City of Los Alamitos also agreed to pay $200,000 to Community United for attorneys’ fees, to meet with Community United as part of an effort to rebuild community trust, and to designate a city representative to address any community concerns about the city’s compliance with the California Values Act.
“We are thrilled that this landmark litigation has resulted in a highly favorable settlement, ensuring that the vital legal protections of the California Values Act will remain in place.” said Samir Deger-Sen, an attorney at Latham & Watkins.
Salvador Sarmiento, legislative director with NDLON, said, “Two years ago, nativists targeted Los Alamitos to orchestrate an electoral stunt, and the city has paid for it in wasted time, taxes, and reputation. Today, a beautiful coalition of city residents made sure that their city unequivocally abides by and reaffirms the California consensus on inclusion and equality for all. It’s a lesson for the next city visited by hate groups.”
Read the settlement here: https://www.aclusocal.org/sites/default/files/aclu_socal_los_alamitos_20200511_settlement.pdf