L.A. Declared a Sanctuary City in Unanimous Vote by Los Angeles City Council

By Ceylan Pumphrey, Esq. on February 11, 2019 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

There's no love lost between President Trump and the state of California, especially when it comes to immigration policies. In fact, California has resisted President Trump's efforts to enforce illegal immigration laws at every turn. In the latest development of this fight between California and the president, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted to declare LA a sanctuary city.

What Is a Sanctuary City?

While there isn't an actual legal definition of a sanctuary city, it generally means that a city has certain policies limiting government employees -- including police officers -- from assisting federal immigration officials. The idea behind imposing these policies is to build trust and cooperation between immigrant communities and authorities in order to combat crime.

It's important to be aware, however, that sanctuary cities don't provide absolute protection for undocumented immigrants. Regular criminal laws still apply to undocumented immigrants in sanctuary cities. Additionally, the federal government is free to enforce federal immigration laws without the assistance of state or local police.

What's the Effect of LA's Sanctuary City Status?

The new resolution passed in the city of LA is mainly a symbolic one, as it doesn't include any new policies on immigration. It does, however, put LA formally in line with Senate Bill 54, which declares California a sanctuary state. More specifically, Senate Bill 54 limits California police officers' collaboration with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Even before this resolution, both the city and the county of LA have adopted pro-immigrant policies. Examples of the policies include barring city employees from sharing information about residents with ICE and decriminalizing street vending. Additionally, LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced in January that ICE agents are prohibited from entering county police stations, courts, and jails on civil immigration matters.

If you have questions about how living in a sanctuary city may affect you, or have questions immigration laws in general, it may be a good idea to speak with a local attorney.

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