SAN DIEGO – The San Diego County Board of Supervisors is set Tuesday to consider whether to join the Trump administration’s lawsuit against California’s so-called sanctuary state laws.
The board plans to meet in closed session after its 9 a.m. meeting to discuss San Diego County’s options for weighing in on the suit. Among the laws targeted by the legal action is SB 54, which limits cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities.
Chairwoman Kristin Gaspar plans to announce the board’s decision following the closed-door meeting, at which it will meet with the county attorney, according to a Gaspar spokeswoman.
It remains unclear whether the all-Republican board has the votes to back the lawsuit and which specific route it would take to voice its support. Two supervisors appear to be in favor of supporting the Trump administration’s position, two are opposed and one has not made his view public.
Supervisor Dianne Jacob has led public opposition to the laws and said she agrees with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions that they are unconstitutional and undermine public safety. She said she believes the board has the majority vote needed to support the case.
Gaspar’s public views on the case have been less direct, though it appears she’s opposed to the laws.
“This is a politically super-charged issue as you might imagine,” Gaspar told Fox News. “We’re talking about hundreds of emails pouring in from all sides. But let us not forget, let’s take the emotion out of this. We’re talking about following the constitutional laws of our land.”
Two supervisors have indicated they’re opposed to joining the suit: Greg Cox, who said sheriff’s deputies “should not be forced to carry out immigration duties,” and Ron Roberts. But Roberts will not be at Tuesday’s meeting due to a “long-planned trip.”
“Had I attended, I would have urged my colleagues to stay out of this issue,” Roberts said.
The decision then could rest on the shoulders of Supervisor Bill Horn, who has not made public his views. Horn represents North County’s conservative District 4 and has expressed conservative views on immigration in the past. He is not seeking reelection due to term limits.
Members of advocacy group Indivisible San Diego rallied outside Horn’s office Monday to urge him to vote no on joining the lawsuit.
Horn’s office did not respond to a request for comment about the supervisor’s views.
Local governments in recent weeks have taken varying approaches to weighing in on the sanctuary state case, from resolutions to voting to file lawsuits themselves.
The city council in San Juan Capistrano, for instance, recently passed a resolution against SB 54. Resolutions are largely symbolic statements of a government’s stance.
Aliso Viejo, Escondido and Mission Viejo are among the cities whose leaders have voted to file amicus briefs in support of the Trump administration’s position. Such briefs are often submitted by those who have an interest in a court case but are not parties in the lawsuit.
The deadline to file a “friend of the court” brief in this case has since passed, according to The San Diego Union Tribune.
The Orange County Board of Supervisors voted last month to join the lawsuit, while the Huntington Beach City Council voted recently to file its own suit.
The Los Alamitos City Council voted to “exempt” the city from the sanctuary laws.
“We want to do something more than a resolution, or at least I personally do, because that’s seemingly meaningless,” Gaspar said. “We’ll be working in closed session with our legal team to really explore any and all options that we have as a county to provide meaningful input into this lawsuit.”
National attention turned to San Diego County as its leaders are considering whether to become the second county to weigh in on the lawsuit.
The vote could be a defining moment in the political career of Gaspar, who is running in a closely watched Congressional race in a district Hillary Clinton carried by just over 50 percent of the vote.
The Republican incumbent in the 49th District, Rep. Darrell Issa of Vista, is not seeking reelection. He narrowly won reelection in 2016 by 0.6 percent to Democrat Doug Applegate, who is among the candidates facing off against Gaspar in the June primary.