There are two battling governments when it comes to immigration laws, and the Plumas County Board of Supervisors demonstrated that split decision at its regular board meeting May 1. The board was faced with a resolution that declared support of federal immigration law, and rejected any county sanctuary policy.
The resolution was presented by District 3 Supervisor Sherrie Thrall after a number of California counties passed similar resolutions. The resolution was a response to the recent passage of SB 54 in October 2017, declaring California a sanctuary state for illegal immigrants.
According to the bill’s text, SB 54 prohibits state and local law enforcement “from using money, personnel or resources to investigate, detain, detect or arrest persons for immigration enforcement.”
Many counties have pushed against the law, including San Diego, Shasta, and Orange. The number of counties that have passed similar resolutions against the sanctuary state continues to grow. However, Plumas County will not be added to that list.
With only four members present at the board meeting, the board vote was split and left the resolution in a stalemate.
If it had passed, the resolution would have demonstrated adherence to the federal laws on immigration, and declared that Plumas County is not a sanctuary county.
“One thing I am not going to do is put our $25 million jail grant in jeopardy,” said District 4 Supervisor Lori Simpson.
“Plumas County depends upon a lot of federal and state money,” said District 5 Supervisor Jeff Engel, “and although I feel very strongly that I don’t want to be a sanctuary county, I also don’t want to jeopardize, like Lori said, a $25 million grant that we have to build a new jail … We don’t have the money yet folks.”
The new jail grant is slated to be funded through SB 844, the adult local criminal justice facilities construction financing program aimed toward providing jail facilities to small California counties. The grant request is still in the approval process at the state level.
“We need to just stay out of it,” said Simpson. “This is just a political stunt.”
“It would only take one bureaucrat in Sacramento to raise the red flag and put the kibosh on this grant,” said Engel.
“There is a point in time, ladies and gentlemen, where we have to vote for what is right …” said District 1 Supervisor Mike Sanchez. “I don’t want to jeopardize the jail, but at the same time, we have to get off our butts and start protecting our citizens. … Why do we want a sanctuary for people that we don’t know why they are here?”
“This is very symbolic,” Sanchez continued. “This is not an ordinance that is going to change anything, It is symbolic in nature. It is a gesture, but if it aggravates a lobbyist or politician and we end up losing our jail … then we probably didn’t serve the community right.”
Sanchez motioned to table the matter for two months until they learn more about the grant and what other counties were doing. Thrall seconded the motion, but it failed during the voting period due to a tie. Simpson then moved to deny the adoption of the resolution, thus declaring that the county complies with state laws on immigration, but that motion failed with only Engel and Simpson voting in favor.
The resolution did not go through. However, the matter can be taken up again in future meetings.