…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:
“…Section 11369 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 ICE.
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 argument. Let’s hope this decision sends shock waves through every community in America where public officials have implemented unlawful sanctuary policies for illegal aliens.
This is a very significant victory for Judicial Watch. Congratulations go to Judicial Watch attorney Jim Peterson who argued the case on our behalf at the appellate court.
By the way, 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.
Voters Speak Out on the Hot-button Issues of Corruption and Immigration — Judicial Watch Releases Results of New Zogby Poll
This week, Judicial Watch released the results of a nationwide poll conducted by Zogby International concerning the American people’s attitudes regarding two hot-button campaign issues – political corruption and illegal immigration. The poll, conducted October 16-19, 2008, considered the opinions of 1,211 likely voters and had a margin of error of +/- 2.9%.
Let’s take a look at the results, starting with the issue of corruption. According to the Judicial Watch – Zogby poll:
· 62.6% said they "strongly agree" with the statement, "…political corruption played a major role in our nation's recent financial crisis." An additional 19.1% said they "somewhat agree" with that statement.
· 46.9% said they trust Barack Obama more than John McCain to combat government corruption in Washington, while 43.2% preferred Senator McCain over Senator Obama. Sen. Biden (46.8%) also had a slight lead on this question over Gov. Palin (44.7%)
· 30.5% said Congress has become "more corrupt" since Democrats took control of Congress away from Republicans. Another 8.5% said Congress had become "less corrupt," while 55.9% said corruption had "remained about the same" since Democrats took control.
· 44% said they trust Democrats more than Republicans to combat corruption in Washington, while 37.4% preferred Republicans to combat corruption.
· 69.2% said they "strongly agree" with the statement that corruption is a "significant problem in Washington, DC," while an additional 22.7% said they "somewhat agree" with that statement.
· 47.5% of respondents said they "strongly agree" with the statement that "bigger government leads to more corruption," while an additional 25.4% said they "somewhat agree" with that statement.
We’re still reviewing all of the demographic breakdowns, but here’s my quick analysis of the results: Clearly, the public is still extremely concerned with the issue of government corruption. There is widespread belief that the political corruption is responsible for the financial crisis. And voters obviously think the Democrats in Congress have failed to keep their promise to clean up corruption on Capitol Hill.
As far as the presidential race is concerned, these results suggest the presidential candidate who is best seen as able to combat Washington corruption will go on to win the Oval Office. In other words, both Obama and McCain would do well to pay serious attention to the political corruption issue and better address it in the coming two weeks.
Now onto the issue of illegal immigration (which has been largely ignored in this presidential campaign):
· 71.5% said they agree local law enforcement officers should enforce federal immigration laws, including 51.5% of Hispanics and 56.2% of self-described “liberals.”
· 71.5% said they disagree public officials should use taxpayer funds to operate day laborer sites that help illegal immigrants, including 56.2% of Hispanics and 53.2% of self described “liberals.”
· 57.1% said more law enforcement is needed to address the issue of illegal immigration while only 7.1% said they believe less law enforcement should be used. 34.7% of Hispanics support more law enforcement while 15.5% said less. Of self-described “liberals,” 39% said they support more law enforcement, while 13.2 percent said less.
· 54.8% said they oppose “sanctuary policies” that help illegal aliens (39.3% “strongly” oppose) while 34.9% said they support such policies. 36.2% of Hispanics oppose “sanctuary policies.”
The most important message here is that no matter their politics or ethnicity, the American people want public officials to enforce federal immigration laws. It is difficult to find any political issue that inspires such unanimity.
Click here for all of the details on the Judicial Watch – Zogby immigration survey, including all of the demographic information.
Judicial Watch Sues Department of Homeland Security for Documents Related to Border Fence
So, whatever happened to that border fence in Texas that was supposed to help keep illegals from flooding into the United States? So far, not enough, according to the
The federal government has completed just a half-mile section of the 110 miles of pedestrian border fence promised along the Texas-Mexico border.
Texas' incomplete portion, about 109.5 miles, accounts for about a third of the 316 miles of pedestrian and vehicle barriers that remains to be built along the border that officials had hoped to complete by the end of President Bush's term in January.
The delays in completing the politically charged project, designed to stem illegal immigration, have been blamed on politicians' resistance, landowners' unwillingness to sell, shortages of materials, soaring costs and unforeseen construction problems.
Judicial Watch has been tracking this situation closely. In fact, in July, we filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to obtain documents so we could get to the truth about the delays. You can probably guess what happened next. DHS stonewalled, forcing Judicial Watch to file a lawsuit last week.
Our questions are rather basic. Here are a couple of them. First, what properties will be used for the fence and how are they selected? And, second, do the politicians who are leading the charge against the border fence own land that has been selected for use? Obviously, if this is the case, their opposition to the border fence might be based on their personal interest, and not the interests of the public.
So far answers are in short supply. That is why we file these open records requests, to provide the American people with as much information as possible so they can make their own informed opinions. You can be sure I’ll have much more on this issue in future installments of the update.
Tom Fitton is President of Judicial Watch, a nonpartisan educational foundation that fights government corruption. Visit www.judicialwatch.org for more information on Judicial Watch's legal campaigns and programs.