Los Angeles Almanac Logo
Home | All Almanac Topics | Immigration & Migration

"Sanctuary" Cities
Los Angeles County

ICE Officer with Local Police Searching for Convicted Criminals

Los Angeles area ICE officer with local police searching for convicted criminals. Photo courtesy of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Despite federal law (the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996) requiring local government to cooperate with the Department of Homeland Security, the California Values Act, or the law more commonly referred to as the “state sanctuary law,” went into effect on January 1, 2018. This law directs all counties and municipalities in California to excise what are commonly known as "sanctuary” policies. Although the term “sanctuary policy” is not strictly defined, these policies generally direct public employees, including law enforcement officers, not to notify the federal government when the immigration status of residents in their communities might be subject to question. These policies generally do not make a distinction between legal and illegal residents, allowing persons with no legal status in the United States to fully benefit from city services (or, as in the case of the City of Huntington Park, even be appointed to a city commission) and preventing notification of Federal immigration authorities when persons are arrested for anything less than a violent crime. The County of Los Angeles and the City of Los Angeles both formally adopted "sanctuary" policies prior to enactment of the California Values Act. Other cities and some school districts within Los Angeles County also adopted similar policies meant to shield residents from federal immigration authorities. With the California Values Act now state law, however, it has become moot to single out or list any California jurisdiction exercising so-called “sanctuary” policies.