Shasta County will soon revisit whether the county wants to push back against California’s “sanctuary state” law just months after the Board of Supervisors punted on the issue.
The decision to revisit opposition to Senate Bill 54 comes 10 months after the board put off the issue and two months after Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill into law. It came after more than hour of sometimes heated rhetoric from local conservatives who pressed supervisors to state their opposition to the law publicly.
“I’ve had enough, many of the people in the audience have had enough and I hope you have had enough,” Janet Chandler told the board. “As employees and representatives of the people of Shasta County, the time has come for you stand up, honor your oaths of office and announce to Sacramento that you will not comply.”
Her remarks reflected most of what the dozen people who spoke to the board said as they tried to push supervisors to take some action to oppose the state law. Several speakers also referenced the recent acquittal of a Mexican national in the death of a San Francisco woman, an incident that’s intensified the debate surrounding sanctuary jurisdictions.
“We can’t keep going with a state that’s out of control and, frankly, the rule of law is gone,” Terry Rapoza said.
The comments came after County Counsel Ruben Cruse presented his analysis of the law.
The county, as a subdivision of the state, can’t ignore state law and local elected officials simply can’t decide which state laws are constitutional, he said.
Pointing to actions by Tehama and Siskiyou counties, the city of Anderson and others, Shasta County could follow suit and pass a declaration that it’s not a sanctuary county but Cruse said because those resolutions say the jurisdictions will cooperate with federal immigration authorities as resources and other legal obligations allow, they’re not in conflict with the state law.
“Those types of declarations and resolutions are perfectly fine, they’re legal but they don’t mean that somehow we will disregard SB 54 or we won’t comply with SB 54. If the county were to adopt such a resolution, it would be unlawful, in my opinion, it would be void,” Cruse said.
The decision will see the county weigh a few options; send a letter to state lawmakers voicing the county’s opposition to the law; follow suit with other North State counties and cities who’ve declared they’ll cooperate with federal authorities as much as possible; or consider joining any emerging legal challenges to SB 54.
“I believe we should take a public stand that we disagree,” Supervisor Baugh said. “It’s a start.”
While Baugh generally found agreement among his peers, Supervisor Mary Rickert looked to protect the county’s funding after threats and an executive order from President Donald Trump to deny funding to sanctuary cities.
“We have to worry about funding. We are scraping together dollars to try to keep this county running,” Rickert said.
Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko said he and County Executive Officer Larry Lees are watching court cases surrounding federal grant eligibility for sanctuary cities. While he’s opposed to SB 54, Bosenko said the county already doesn’t honor detainer requests to hold those suspected of being in the country illegally past their scheduled date of release from jail — only federal warrants. Moreover, the Sheriff’s Office doesn’t participate in immigration sweeps.
“The sheriffs and police throughout the state are not immigration police or enforcement,” he said.
Separately, District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett and Health and Human Services Director Donnell Ewert said the state law would have little or no impact on their operations.