City of Huntington Beach v. Becerra

Decision Date10 January 2020
Docket NumberG057013
Citation257 Cal.Rptr.3d 458,44 Cal.App.5th 243
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
Parties CITY OF HUNTINGTON BEACH, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Xavier BECERRA, as Attorney General, etc., Defendant and Appellant.

Xavier Becerra, Attorney General, Thomas S. Patterson, Assistant Attorney General, Stepan A. Haytayan and Jonathan M. Eisenberg, Deputy Attorneys General, for Defendant and Appellant.

Michael E. Gates, City Attorney, and Brian L. Williams, Santa Ana, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

OPINION

FYBEL, ACTING P. J.

INTRODUCTION

The California Values Act, Government Code section 7284 et seq. (the CVA), restricts the ability of local law enforcement agencies to inquire into immigration status, place individuals on an immigration hold, and use personnel or resources to participate in certain immigration enforcement activities. The issue we address is whether charter cities are exempt from compliance with one part of the CVA, Government Code section 7284.6 ( section 7284.6 ), on the ground it infringes the authority of charter cities under article XI, section 5, subdivision (b) of the California Constitution to create, regulate, and govern city police forces.

We hold section 7284.6 is constitutional as applied to charter cities because it addresses matters of statewide concern—including public safety and health, effective policing, and protection of constitutional rights—is reasonably related to resolution of those statewide concerns, and is narrowly tailored to avoid unnecessary interference in local government. In so holding, we follow and apply the opinions of the California Supreme Court in California Fed. Savings & Loan Assn. v. City of Los Angeles (1991) 54 Cal.3d 1, 283 Cal.Rptr. 569, 812 P.2d 916 ( California Fed. Savings ) and State Building & Construction Trades Council of California v. City of Vista (2012) 54 Cal.4th 547, 143 Cal.Rptr.3d 529, 279 P.3d 1022 ( City of Vista ).

The trial court concluded otherwise, and granted a petition for writ of mandamus brought by the City of Huntington Beach (the City), which is a charter city. The court ordered Xavier Becerra, as the California Attorney General, to refrain from enforcing section 7284.6 against the City. Based on our holding that section 7284.6 is constitutional as applied to charter cities, we reverse with directions to deny the writ petition and enter judgment in favor of the Attorney General.

In a companion appeal, City of Huntington Beach v. Los Alamitos Community United , G057209 (2020) ––– Cal.App.5th ––––, ––– Cal.Rptr.3d ––––, 2020 WL 112178, two community organizations and four people challenge the trial court's ruling the CVA is unconstitutional as to charter cities. In that case, we conclude the appellants lack standing to appeal and grant the City's motion to dismiss.

RELEVANT LAW

Resolution of this appeal turns on the relationship and potential conflict among three sources of law: (1) the CVA, (2) article XI, section 5 of the California Constitution, and (3) the Huntington Beach Charter and municipal code provisions.

I. The CVA

When enacting the CVA, the Legislature found "[i]mmigrants are valuable and essential members of the California community," "[a] relationship of trust between California's immigrant community and state and local agencies is central to the public safety of the people of California," and "[t]his trust is threatened when state and local agencies are entangled with federal immigration enforcement." ( Gov. Code, § 7284.2, subds. (a), (b) & (c).) As a result, the Legislature found, "immigrant community members fear approaching police when they are victims of, and witnesses to, crimes, seeking basic health services, or attending school, to the detriment of public safety and the well-being of all Californians." (Id. , subd. (c).)

In addition, the Legislature found that "[e]ntangling state and local agencies with federal immigration enforcement programs diverts already limited resources and blurs the lines of accountability between local, state, and federal governments." ( Gov. Code, § 7284.2, subd. (d).) The Legislature expressed concern that state and local participation in federal immigration enforcement could lead to the unconstitutional detention of California residents who were targeted based on race or ethnicity in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Equal Protection Clause. (Id. , subd. (e).) The goal of the CVA, the Legislature declared, is "to ensure effective policing, to protect the safety, well-being, and constitutional rights of the people of California, and to direct the state's limited resources to matters of greatest concern to state and local governments." (Id. , subd. (f).)

The CVA carries out its purposes by prohibiting state and local law enforcement from engaging in certain specifically identified acts related to immigration enforcement. Section 7284.6, the challenged part of the CVA, prohibits state and local law enforcement from: (1) inquiring into a person's immigration status (id. , subd. (a)(1)(A)); (2) detaining a person on the basis of a "hold" request from immigration authorities (id. , subd. (a)(1)(B)); (3) providing information regarding a person's release date or responding to requests for notification by providing release dates unless that information is available to the public (id. , subd. (a)(1)(C)); (4) providing personal information, such as address and employment status, to immigration authorities, unless that information is available to the public (id. , subd. (a)(1)(D)); (5) making or intentionally participating in arrests based on civil immigration warrants (id. , subd. (a)(1)(E)); (6) assisting immigration authorities in warrantless searches near the United States border (id. , subd. (a)(1)(F)); (7) performing the functions of an immigration agent (id. , subd. (a)(1)(G)); (8) placing local law enforcement officers under the supervision of a federal agency for purposes of immigration enforcement (id. , subd. (a)(2)); (9) using immigration officers as interpreters for law enforcement matters under the jurisdiction of state or local law enforcement agencies (id. , subd. (a)(3)); (10) transferring a person to immigration authorities unless authorized by a judicial warrant or judicial probable cause determination (id. , subd. (a)(4)); (11) providing office space exclusively dedicated for immigration agents within a county or city law enforcement facility (id. , subd. (a)(5)); and (12) contracting with the federal government for use of California law enforcement facilities to house persons as federal detainees for purposes of civil immigration custody (id. , subd. (a)(6)).

The CVA makes clear that California law enforcement agencies are not prohibited from engaging in certain activities with federal authorities. California law enforcement agencies are not prohibited from investigating, enforcing, detaining upon reasonable suspicion of, or arresting a person for a violation of section 1326(a) of title 8 of the United States Code (reentry of removed aliens). ( § 7284.6, subd. (b)(1).) California law enforcement agencies are not prohibited from responding to a request from immigration authorities for information about a specific person's criminal history if otherwise permitted by state law. (Id. , subd. (b)(2).) California law enforcement agencies may conduct enforcement or investigative duties associated with a joint law enforcement task force so long as the primary purpose of the task force is not immigration enforcement and the enforcement or investigative duties are primarily related to a violation of law unrelated to immigration enforcement. (Id. , subd. (b)(3).)

The CVA states that it "does not prohibit or restrict any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, federal immigration authorities, information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of [any] individual, or from requesting from federal immigration authorities immigration status information, lawful or unlawful, of any individual, or maintaining or exchanging that information with any other federal, state, or local government entity, pursuant to [federal immigration laws]." ( § 7284.6, subd. (e).)

The CVA imposes on the California Attorney General the task of preparing and publishing "model policies limiting assistance with immigration enforcement to the fullest extent possible consistent with federal and state law at public schools, public libraries, health facilities operated by the state or a political subdivision of the state, courthouses, Division of Labor Standards Enforcement facilities, the Agricultural Labor Relations Board, the Division of Workers Compensation, and shelters, and ensuring that they remain safe and accessible to all California residents, regardless of immigration status." ( Gov. Code, § 7284.8, subd. (a).)

The CVA also imposes restrictions on the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DCR). The DCR must, in advance of an interview between United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and a person in DCR custody, provide that person with a written consent form explaining the purpose of the interview, that the interview is voluntary, and that the person may decline to be interviewed or be interviewed only with an attorney present. ( Gov. Code, § 7284.10, subd. (a)(1).) The DCR must, upon receiving an ICE hold, notification, or transfer request, provide a copy of the request to the person who is the subject of the request and inform him or her whether the DCR intends to comply with it. (Id. , subd. (a)(2).) The CVA prohibits the DCR from (1) restricting access to "any in-prison educational or rehabilitative programming, or credit-earning opportunity" solely on the basis of citizenship or immigration status and (2) considering citizenship or immigration status in determining a person's custodial classification level. (Id. , subd. (b)(1) & (2).)

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