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SCOTUS rejects Trump administration challenge to California “Sanctuary” law

ICE out of CA coalition praises court’s decision and commits to support #DefundPolice efforts in solidarity with Black Lives Matter protests

Contacts:
Pedro Rios, prios@afsc.org 619-370-5908
Jon Rodney, jon@immdefense.org 510-207-9520

June 15, 2020 - Today, the U.S Supreme Court declined to take up U.S. v. California (19-532), a Trump administration lawsuit which unsuccessfully sought to challenge certain provisions of the California Values Act, also known as the “Sanctuary State” law or SB 54. With the Supreme Court's decision, technically known as a denial of certiorari, the Values Act remains in full force and effect. Both the Ninth Circuit and the U.S. District court fully upheld the law in earlier rulings. 

In response to today’s decision, the ICE out of California Coalition, which has led efforts to pass, implement, and expand the Values Act, issued the following statement: 

The court’s action today is a blow to the Trump administration’s racist agenda and a rebuke to federal attempts to coerce local governments into carrying out its dirty work. In rejecting the administration’s lawsuit, the court has recognized the power of local and state governments to use local resources for the common good and protect residents from federal abuses of power.

We recognize that this decision comes at a pivotal moment in this country to defend Black people from racist violence. Policing and incarceration, by their very design, have criminalized Black people and communities of color. 

Meanwhile, federal efforts to entangle these systems with deportation compound the injustice and have deeply hurt immigrants of color, with disproportionate harm to Black immigrants. While the Values Act set some protections, it unjustly excluded many people who have suffered in a criminal legal system revealed to be racist and corrupt. 

As the threat of COVID-19 grows in ICE detention, California’s leaders must end these unfair exclusions and halt entanglement with ICE. But this is not enough. In solidarity with Black communities, we pledge to support efforts to divest resources away from a fundamentally abusive system of policing and incarceration. We must invest in community-led solutions to safety, such as mental health resources, affordable housing, and public health approaches to violence prevention. Communities that have been the most impacted should have the greatest say in redefining public safety and creating opportunity. 

The following organizations in the ICE out of California Coalition signed on to the statement: American Friends Service Committee-San Diego, Asian Americans Advancing Justice - California, Buen Vecino, California Immigrant Policy Center, California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance, CLUE-Ventura County, ICE Out of Marin, Immigrant Defense Project, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Indivisible Conejo, Indivisible Sausalito, Indivisible Ventura, Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice, National Day Laborer Organizing Network, PICO California, San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium, and VietRISE.

The Values Act, passed in 2017, sets a minimum standard across the state to limit police and sheriffs from acting as deportation agents. Polling has found a majority of California voters support the law, while anti-immigrant attacks on the law backfired significantly.  A study found that in the law’s first five months, ICE arrests in California declined 41%. 

However, long-standing concerns over unfair exclusions in the law have become acute as medical neglect and the impossibility of physical distancing have led to a COVID-19 crisis in ICE detention, jails, and prisons. Critically, a 2016 report by the Black Alliance for Just Immigration found “while Black immigrants make up only 7.2% of the noncitizen population in the U.S., they make up 20.3% of immigrants facing deportation … on criminal grounds.”

Across the nation, local communities have adopted a range of policies which limit local involvement with deportations. The specific provisions of the policies vary, as do their names: Each TRUST Act, Values Act, Freedom City, and Sanctuary policy varies, but common themes are protecting local resources and upholding due process protections. 

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