By Brian Whitehead | bwhitehead@scng.com | San Bernardino Sun
Published: April 23, 2018 at 9:07 pm | Updated: April 25, 2018 at 12:04 am

Debate over California’s sanctuary state law is accelerating through San Bernardino County this week, with Yucaipa on Monday, April 23, joining Hesperia in formally coming out against the law.

City leaders voted, 4-1, to draft a letter of opposition to Senate Bill 54, the California Values Act, after hearing from 48 speakers over 90 minutes of public comment.

Councilwoman Denise Allen was the lone dissenter.

Of the four dozen speakers allotted two minutes at the podium, 33 opposed SB 54, which aims to shield undocumented immigrants from deportation.

About an hour before the City Council meeting, residents and out-of-towners on both sides of the debate rallied outside City Hall. Some wore Make America Great Again caps and vests with the American flags likeness; Linda Bedford, a longtime Yucaipa resident, was one of a dozen or so attendees holding a sign in support of the law.

SB 54 “already is state law and it doesn’t prohibit law enforcement from reporting criminals,” said Mari Winter, another Yucaipa resident in favor of SB 54. “We don’t have a lot of skin in the game. We’re trying to make it our problem.”
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Yucaipa’s brimming Council Chambers rivaled similar scenes in Riverside and Orange counties as the debate over SB 54 spreads from one municipality to another. In front of a live audience of about 300, public speakers lent their voice to that debate, often passionately and through personal anecdotes.

SB 54 was signed into law by Gov. Brown last October, limiting state and local law enforcement’s ability to help the federal government enforce immigration law. Specifically, the California Values Act prohibits California police from helping immigration officers detain immigrants accused of most non-violent crimes, though police remain cooperative with federal authorities when it comes to holding people accused of violent crimes, multiple drug and alcohol offenses and hundreds of other exceptions.

Because Yucaipa, a city of 54,000, contracts with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department for police services, the issue of whether local police operations will be altered in response to SB 54 is up to the county, city staffers said.

And while it appears there are no plans for county supervisors to take up the matter, cities in San Bernardino County have started discussing the issue before invested audiences.

Hesperia earlier this month approved filing a brief in support of the Department of Justice, which has sued the state, Gov. Brown and Xavier Becerra, the state’s attorney general, over SB 54. The city of Upland was expected to take up the matter Monday as well.

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