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Huntington Beach Sues California Over Immigration Policy

It turns out not all of California is on the same page about providing sanctuary for undocumented immigrants.

The city of Huntington Beach sued the state Wednesday, along with Governor Jerry Brown and Attorney General Xavier Becerra, over California’s six-month-old law that bars local police from telling federal officials when immigrants subject to deportation are about to be released from custody.

Known as Surf City, USA, the beach-side metropolis in politically red Orange County is the first locality to formally challenge the California Values Act, arguing it violates the state constitution by interfering with cities’ rights to allocate their own tax dollars.

“The state can’t tell us what we can and cannot spend our money on," said city attorney Michael Gates. “The way that law is drafted is the definition of constitutional overreach in California."

Besides objecting to the state’s prohibition on holding immigrants until they can be apprehended by federal authorities, the city is challenging a state requirement that it create safe zones for undocumented people at public facilities including schools, libraries and courthouses.

Huntington Beach also plans to join the legal challenge to California’s sanctuary laws filed last month by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, just as Orange County already has resolved to do, Gates said. The Justice Department had sought to block sanctuary cities from getting federal funding, resulting in legal battles around the country.

The city of Los Alamitos took a different tack from Huntington Beach, voting to exempt itself from the state law. Other municipalities in the county including Mission Viejo, Upland, Fullerton, Costa Mesa, Buena Park and Yorba Linda are pursuing similar measures, according to media reports.

The law “eviscerates the requirement that state and local government ‘cooperate’ and communicate with the federal government,” according to a copy of Huntington Beach’s complaint provided by the city. The filing couldn’t immediately be confirmed in court records.

The case is City of Huntington Beach v. the State of California, Superior Court of California (Orange County).

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