A line has been drawn in the sand, so to speak, and California lawmakers must make a critical decision: Enforce the laws on the books that would require local city, county and state law enforcement agencies to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) officials with regard to immigrants charged and/or convicted of crimes and reap the benefits of nearly $135 million in grants, or take what many perceive as a more humane approach and put its “sanctuary cities” first to keep families of immigrants facing possible deportation together. This comes as a Republican-majority Congress puts conditions on grants forcing the Department of Justice’s hand to comply with laws on the books.

“This irresponsible legislation has already caused the release of thousands of criminals that U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement was trying to deport,” said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Washington DC-based Center for Immigration Studies. “Now it may also cost California police and sheriffs critical funding from the federal government. Last year, these grants were worth more than $130 million.”

A Look at Sanctuary Cities and California’s Trust Act

mexican immigration to USA graphic
mexican immigration to USA graphic

It’s a tenuous situation between complying with the law and building sanctuary cities. California’s Trust Act, which favors aiding fugitive undocumented immigrants in order to keep families together has been deemed illegal in the eyes of the Republican-led Congress. Here are some of the current issues between the two camps:¹

  • The TRUST Act became California law on Jan. 1, 2014 and mandated all state counties limit any “hold” requests by federal or other law enforcement authorities as it is viewed as costly and cruel. California lawmakers believe that immigrant crime victims and witnesses will come forward with TRUST, and without fear of deportation.
  • An independent watchdog group that monitors the Department of Justice, recently released a report that found the number of sanctuary cities has increased drastically in the past decade.
  • The same watch dog report also notes that local law enforcement cooperation with federal law enforcement has decreased.
  • Vaughan noted that the sanctuary cities are acting in violation of federal law and setting a dangerous precedent, and that policies need to be reversed in those unlawful acting cities “before more people get killed, and if they don’t, they should be debarred from DOJ grants.”
  • Sanctuary policy defenders say their policies reduce undocumented immigrants fear of police and protect immigrants from deportation.
  • Many Department of Homeland Security officials say leaving released undocumented immigrants from prisons and jails in the U.S. is dangerous, because many continue to break the law.
  • Retired ICE special agent Claude Arnold, who was formerly in charge of Homeland Security Investigations, said sanctuary supporters claim immigration enforcement is the exclusive responsibility of the federal government, however enacting laws such as the California Trust Act, which dictates how the federal government can enforce the law, contradicts those claims and can have devastating consequences.

Contact a Los Angeles Immigration Lawyer at the Hanlon Law Group, P.C.

Are you in need of a deportation relief legal expert? If so, you can turn to the Los Angeles immigration lawyer at the Hanlon Law Group, P.C. For more than 15 years, our Los Angeles immigration lawyer has successfully represented undocumented immigrant clients in various types of immigration cases, including some of the most basic immigration applications to those associated with extremely complicated federal court litigation.

To schedule a free initial consultation to discuss citizenship and naturalization, or immigration and deportation defense services call today at (626) 684-3712 or (866) 227-5527 or by emailing us using the form at the upper right-hand side of the screen. From our office in Pasadena, we represent immigration clients throughout the Los Angeles area, across the state of California and from around the world.


1“California risks $135M in federal grants over ‘sanctuary city’ policy” published in FoxNews, July 2016.