ALISO VIEJO (CBSLA) — The city of Aliso Viejo is joining the U.S. Justice Department's lawsuit against California's sanctuary state law.
After more than six hours of debate and public comment, the Aliso Viejo City Council voted 4-1 early Thursday morning to join the Orange County cities of Los Alamitos and Huntington Beach in suing the state over SB54, the piece of legislation that would protect people in the state without legal documentation by limiting local police cooperation with federal immigration agents.
"We had a robust discussion and I'm proud of my colleagues for their stamina and attention through 6.5 hours of testimony," Aliso Viejo Mayor Dave Harrington said in a statement Thursday to CBS2. "We did the right thing."
People on both sides of the issue were quite vocal inside and outside Aliso Viejo City Hall Wednesday night, as concerned citizens sounded off for hours on the sanctuary state law, anticipating whether or not city leader would follow behind other nearby municipalities that chose to sue California.
"Not once have I felt at risk from undocumented immigrants, so it's ridiculous that the city council tonight is taking up this issue to sue the state and waste our resources and our tax dollars on unnecessary lawsuits," one woman told the city council.
"Do we really want to support criminals in the community?" asked one woman who opposed the sanctuary state law. "Senate Bill 54 is not supporting illegal aliens, it's supporting criminals who also happen to be illegal aliens."
Last October, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 54, the sanctuary state legislation that extends protections for immigrants living in the United States illegally.
The bill took effect Jan. 1. Under it, police are barred from asking people about their immigration status or participating in immigration enforcement activities. Jail officials are only allowed to transfer inmates to federal immigration authorities if they have been convicted of certain crimes.
In early March, the Justice Department sued the state of California, Governor Jerry Brown and state Attorney General Xavier Becerra, alleging California's three sanctuary state laws (Senate Bill 54, Assembly Bill 450, Assembly Bill 103) interfere with federal immigration activities and "intentionally obstruct and discriminate" against the enforcement of federal immigration law.
Speaking in Sacramento the day after the lawsuit was announced, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions claimed the laws are unconstitutional and a "plain violation of common sense."
On Wednesday night, one proponent of the SB54 theorized that some of the demonstrators who chanted "USA! USA!" outside city hall could be paid protesters.
"I know it's been contentious because there's a group of people that go to Huntington Beach, go to Mission Viejo, and that stir up hate and intolerance and bigotry," the man said. "They don't live here. The people of Aliso Viejo, we believe in diversity and inclusion."
However, when asked by CBS2 if he had been paid to be there, pro-Trump activist Arthur Schaper -- who said he represents the groups Los Angeles County for Trump and We the People Rising -- assured that he was not.
"No, I'm a citizen who's allowed to speak out," said Shaper, who was interviewed by CBS2 in Los Angeles back in March when Sessions announced the federal lawsuit against California.
Meanwhile, a woman CBS2 recognized from other regional protests also denied being a paid to be at the meeting.
When President Trump visited San Diego last month to look at border wall prototypes, he was critical of Gov. Brown.
"I think Gov. Brown has done a very poor job running California," Trump said. "They have the highest taxes in the United States. The place is totally out of control. You have sanctuary cities where you have criminals living in the sanctuary cities. And then the mayor of Oakland goes out and notifies when ICE is going in to pick them up."
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