Should Newport be a Sanctuary City?

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Newport Beach Councilman Scott Peotter’s opinion is clear in his Jan. 27 newsletter: “I think Newport Beach ought to oppose the sanctuary city movement. What do you think?”

The email newsletter was sent just two days after President Donald Trump signed an executive order to deny federal funds to “sanctuary cities,” or municipalities that do not comply with federal immigration laws or requests from immigration enforcement agencies.

Peotter’s stance contradicts those of large cities in California, such as Los Angeles, which refuses to assist federal immigration officers attempting to identify those who are in the country illegally. Or San Francisco, which filed a lawsuit against Trump last week, alleging that the executive order is unconstitutional and by requiring the city to enforce federal law, violates the 10th Amendment.

The councilman’s position does seem to be supported by his constituents, judging by the public survey on his website. Of the more than 130 people participating, only one voter supported Newport Beach becoming a sanctuary city. The rest agreed with Peotter.

California is already a version of a sanctuary state, even if it has never officially declared itself one. Local jails in the state are not required to detain an undocumented non-felon if U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents ask them to, under a 2014 law known as the TRUST Act.

Last month, Santa Ana passed a city ordinance prohibiting city resources or sensitive information to be shared with immigration enforcement. Santa Ana, the county seat and second largest city in Orange County, has a significantly larger immigration population than Newport Beach. It is the only sanctuary city in the county, and moved to declare itself one after Trump’s election in 2016.

While Peotter’s newsletter is not official city correspondence, it is still unlikely that Newport Beach will declare itself a sanctuary city. 

“The city of Newport Beach – and the police department – comply with all local, state, and federal laws,” spokesperson for the Newport Beach Police Department, Jennifer Manzella, wrote in an email.

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