Nevada County supervisors won’t consider sanctuary resolution
December 12, 2017
A number of Nevada County residents spoke during the public comment portion of the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday on a controversial proposed resolution to make the local jurisdiction a "non-sanctuary" county.
The proposal was put forward in November by a group angered by the passage of Senate Bill 54, which made California a sanctuary state and limits police agencies' ability to work with federal immigration authorities. Most of those who spoke Tuesday support Nevada County as a sanctuary county.
After hearing more than a dozen comments on the issue, however, board Chairman Hank Weston said the issue was moot — county counsel had deemed the resolution was contrary to state law, and will not be placed on a future agenda.
Weldon Travis — one of the initial proponents of the resolution — spoke in its favor, calling the creation of sanctuary states an illegal action.
Opponents, some of whom toted signs to the board meeting, spoke against the supervisors considering the resolution, even though they acknowledged the concept of a sanctuary county was largely symbolic.
"It's not illegal to be undocumented," Itara O'Connell told the supervisors, suggesting that a simple solution to issues with illegal immigration would be the issuance of work permits.
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Amy Cooke, co-owner of Grass Valley eatery Summer Thyme's, said it was critical to ensure that the county did not empower local law enforcement to act on behalf of the federal government.
"We maintain a greater safety because immigrants feel more comfortable to cooperate with local law enforcement agencies," she said. "They're not afraid of being deported."
As an employer, Cooke said, she sees "very directly" the value of having immigrants in the community, saying they are a vital part of local businesses.
"They contribute in numerous ways," she said. "They are true citizens."
Tomas Evangelista identified himself as an immigrant and a recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) — the immigration policy that defers potential deportations.
Evangelista, who said he grew up here and went to Placer High School in Auburn, told the board his future is uncertain, and urged them to keep Nevada County a sanctuary. He also urged those concerned about illegal immigrants to reach out, adding, "We need to get to know each other better."
Weston noted that the Board of Supervisors is bound by state law and is responsible for carrying out state mandates.
"We will not be putting this on the agenda," he said, adding that regardless of the opinion of individual supervisors, "The law is the law."
On Monday, Barratt-Green issued a three-page memorandum to the board, outlining her opinion and legal analysis of the resolution.
She wrote that SB 54 was signed into state law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Oct. 5 and limits the ways in which state and local law enforcement may cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
In her analysis, Barratt-Green wrote that "any ordinance, regulation or other action which conflicts with state law is pre-empted and would be void. … The County of Nevada is required to comply with the restrictions contained in SB 54."
The county counsel said no state law allows Nevada County to unilaterally ignore a new state law and declare itself a "non-sanctuary" jurisdiction. Also, she wrote, the resolution exceeds the authority of the supervisors to set law or policy controlling the sheriff's operational functions.
"This resolution would likely be deemed void if adopted," Barrett-Green wrote.
Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at email@example.com.
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