The Southern California city of Los Alamitos desperately needs your GoFundMe donations to fund its crusade against sanctuary laws.
Los Alamitos Mayor Troy Edgar last month launched a GoFundMe fundraiser to help with legal costs. Weeks later, the mayor is nowhere near his $100,000 goal, and there’s new trouble, because on Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union sued the city.
The ACLU alleges that the attempt by Los Alamitos to exempt itself from California’s statewide sanctuary law is unlawful. The lawsuit was filed two days after the Los Alamitos City Council passed a final vote to exempt the city from the California Values Act, which prohibits local officials from cooperating with federal immigration agents, and places limits on agents entering schools, churches, hospitals, or courthouses to detain undocumented immigrants.
The Los Alamitos decision to exempt itself from the California Values Act seems to be more of a symbolic statement because most of the city’s 11,000 residents are white, according to the latest Census data.
Los Alamitos Mayor Troy Edgar said last month, “we don’t have a significant amount of crime problems with illegal immigrants.” He added that “for us, this is a constitutional issue that we’re looking at.”
The city council and the mayor clearly knew they were asking for lawsuits, since they set up the GoFundMe page weeks before finally passing their exemption into city law. Councilman Mark A. Chirco was the only city official to vote against a previous iteration of the bill because it could “expose the city to litigation,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
The ACLU said Los Alamitos is the only jurisdiction in California to attempt to exempt itself from the law. But other cities have filed amicus briefs in support of a federal lawsuit against the state’s sanctuary laws.
Plaintiffs in the ACLU lawsuit include the local organization Los Alamitos Community Unite; Reverend Samuel Pullen of the Community Congregational United Church of Christ of Los Alamitos; and attorney Henry J. Josefsberg who lives and works in the city.
“Los Alamitos’s illegal ordinance causes serious harm to my ability to serve my congregation,” Rev. Pullen said in a statement. “Immigrant worshippers are less likely to come and participate in church services because of their fear that Los Alamitos and its law enforcement officials are helping deport members of our community.”
Pullen is fluent in Spanish and plays violin with mariachi groups, where he is commonly known as “El Mariachi Gringo,” according to his church’s website. (This is lame, but “gringo” allies that are willing to put their names on a lawsuit get a pass.)
Los Alamitos Mayor Troy Edgar told the Times he couldn’t comment on pending lawsuits, but he did say he would start focusing on promoting the legal defense GoFundMe page.
“Although we are not dependent on this funding approach, I do want to do my part to help our city,” Edgar told the paper.
The fundraiser was launched on March 22. As of this writing, it had raised about $14,000 of its $100,000 goal.
I’m no law expert, but I suspect the city will need a lot more money than that. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has already hinted at another lawsuit against Los Alamitos.
“In California, where I am the chief law enforcement officer, my obligation is to uphold the laws of the state of California,” Becerra said, according to KFI Radio.