Early Win in Suit Against Los Alamitos Anti-Sanctuary Law Holds Promise for Change

Los Alamitos Community United announces their suit. Photo by Gabriel San Roman

By Samuel Paramore

Back when the Los Alamitos city council cast its final vote in April on the now infamous ordinance opting-out of the California Values Act, Orange County Immigrant Youth United stated that the moral arc and absolute victory would be with us in the end. As a lawsuit against the ordinance brought by Los Alamitos Community United progresses, vindication is on the horizon.

On Friday, Orange County Superior Court Judge William Claster denied the city’s request to dismiss the suit.  Mayor Troy J. Edgar might tell you that it’s no big deal. With his two invitations to a White House completely in favor of his actions, and with more than a dozen OC cities having joined the anti-Sanctuary State revolt since Los Alamitos kicked it off, the judge’s ruling is more than a symbolic victory. The city’s incompetent handling of anti-immigrant sentiment may have made them right-wing media darlings for a day, but opened up the potential for new social movements across OC. 

The suit against the city came into existence thanks to Los Alamitos Community United. The coalition of community members, ranging from teachers, pastors, and students, formed right before our eyes right after the council pursued its anti-Sanctuary State stance. They came with critical knowledge of the council carelessness towards the actual needs of the residents, such as remodeling a local community center and youth programs. Council members flaunted an arrogance that had gone too far this time, putting the city’s reputation and budget into a doomed legal battle while placing neighbors into the crosshairs of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). 

The city didn’t even bother showing up to the first day in court for the case. They hid behind an argument that residents had no real legal grounds to pursue recourse. As typical for them, they were wrong and the judge issued an tentative decision that the lawsuit continue while hinting that the ultimate ruling will be in the community’s favor. Coupled with another court ruling against Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ suit in California’s favor, such an outcome would leave similar acts by other cities, such as Huntington Beach’s legal challenge against the state over its sanctuary law looking dead in the dust. 

There’s significance beyond all of that, though. The level of desperation showed by Los Alamitos following the council’s decision shows a crack in their facade, a potential prelude to wildly destructive choices made before a progressive political voice fully develops across the whole of OC. A legal victory for Los Alamitos Community United will only open up further possibilities. If this can happen, who’s to say we cant run ICE out of OC? Who’s to say we have to live in the shadows of corrupt politicians?

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