While the passage of California Senate Bill 54 – the “sanctuary state” legislation that was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in October, which limits local law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration officials – is unlikely to have much of an effect on the day-to-day operations at the Williams Police Department, the city council received an update on the new law from City Administrator Frank Kennedy on Wednesday.
“As a practical matter, it doesn’t affect the City of Williams all that much, but it’s interesting to not that this change has occurred on the state level,” Kennedy said. “Even with this change, it will not affect our policies and procedures that much. We don’t inquire upon booking whether they are in the country legally – that’s something the Sheriff’s Office and the booking people do. It’s an in-custody thing, rather than a point of arrest thing.”
Kennedy said that if a person is arrested on a felony charge, local law enforcement officials can still inquire whether someone is in the country legally under the new law. Before the law was enacted, he added, they could do it for everyone.
Councilmember John Troughton added that local law enforcement agencies can still notify federal immigration authorities of an individual’s immigration status if an undocumented immigrant is arrested on felony charges.
“But any other crimes – a guy could have 40 misdemeanors, and he wouldn’t be eligible for this,” Troughton, who is a former Colusa County Sheriff, said before expressing his displeasure for the new law.
“The University of California did a survey – and that’s not a very conservative university, it’s about as liberal as they get in the United States – and they found that 74 percent of Californians said that they opposed sanctuary jurisdictions,” Troughton said. “So that means that almost three-quarters – one percent away from three-quarters – of the people in California oppose this law, but it still passed through the people and representatives in Sacramento and was signed by their governor. Something seems to be a little bit askew with that situation.”
Troughton was citing a 2015 poll released by the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley. The online survey, which polled just shy of 1,100 California residents from Aug. 11 to Aug. 26, 2015, found that 74 percent of respondents said local authorities should not be able to ignore a federal request to hold a detained person who is in the country illegally. The survey showed that opposition to sanctuary city policies crossed the political spectrum, and included 73 percent of Democrats, 82 percent of Republicans, and 71 percent of independents.
Troughton said that he took an oath when he took office to uphold the constitution of the State of California and the Constitution of the United States, but added that California, “in all its unwisdom, decided they wanted to do this against the will of the people.”
Troughton said he would like to see the city council put forth a resolution stating that they will comply with the law as long as it stands, but also saying that the city does not support its passage – a sentiment he said is shared by nearly three-quarters of Californians.
“I can’t believe that these people are so angry at our President that they would do this,” Troughton said of the state’s lawmakers. “There is no other reason for this. If this was still under a different administration and they wanted to enforce the immigration policies, this would not have happened.” ■