Judicial Watch’s nationwide
campaign to abolish illegal alien sanctuary policies got a huge boost last week
thanks to a landmark decision by a California appellate court.
On October 22, the First
District Court of Appeal for the State of California ruled in our taxpayer
lawsuit that the San Francisco Police Department must comply with a state law
requiring police officers to notify federal authorities when they arrest a
person for various narcotics offenses whom they suspect to be an alien, legal
or illegal [Fonseca v. Fong, Case No. A120206].
With its ruling, the appellate
court shot down a lower court ruling that the law in question, Section 11369 of
the California health and Safety Code, was an impermissible invasion of the
federal government’s “absolute authority” to regulate immigration.
Rejecting this argument, the appellate court remanded the case back to the
trial court to make sure the SFPD’s policies comply with Section 11369.
Here’s an excerpt from the
ruling, which can be read in full by clicking here:
does not require any state or local law enforcement agency to independently
determine whether an arrestee is a citizen of the United States, let alone
whether he or she is present in the United States lawfully or unlawfully.
Nor does the statute create or authorize the creation of independent criteria
by which to classify individuals based on immigration status... All of those
determinations, as well as the duty to tell an arrestee who may be in this
country unlawfully to either obtain legal status or leave, are left entirely to
federal immigration authorities…the statute is therefore not an impermissible
state regulation of immigration.
Section 11369 of the Health and Safety Code
(Section 11369) states: “[w]hen there is
reason to believe that any person arrested for a violation [of any of 14
specified drug offenses] may not be a citizen of the United States, the
arresting agency shall notify the appropriate agency of the United States
having charge of deportation matters.”
Seems clear enough. However, as Judicial
Watch argued in its complaint on behalf of its taxpayer client, Charles
Fonseca, the SFPD had implemented policies, procedures and practices that
prohibited police officers from complying with this law.
As evidence of the SFPD’s illegal behavior,
Judicial Watch quoted a statement from the San Francisco Field Office of
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that noted a “bare minimum of
cooperation” between administrators of the San Francisco County Jail and
As a result of the appellate ruling, San
Francisco must now end its sanctuary policy that protects aliens arrested for
certain drug offenses from being reported to ICE.
Illegal alien advocates such as
the ACLU are dead wrong when they claim local law enforcement agencies cannot
help enforce immigration laws. This ruling puts the lie to their bogus
hope this decision sends shock waves through every community in America where
public officials have implemented unlawful sanctuary policies for illegal
This is a very significant victory for
Judicial Watch. Congratulations go to JW attorney Jim
Peterson who argued the case on our behalf at the appellate court.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Judicial Watch’s new internet site, www.sanctuarybusters.org,
to find out how you can help Judicial Watch abolish sanctuary policies in every
corner of the country.