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Tears, anger punctuate Placer County debate on sanctuary state law

Board takes on no stance after three hours of testimony
By: Gus Thomson, Reporter/Columnist
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UPDATED: JULY 11 2 P.M.

Tears, anger and emotions rubbed raw on both sides Tuesday as the divisive sanctuary state issue embroiled the Placer County Board of Supervisors chambers for more than three hours of heated discussion.

In the end, however, the board didn’t act on one supervisor’s request to take up the issue and possibly send a message to state legislators that it was joining 12 other counties and 42 cities in California opposing state Senate Bill 54 — the so-called sanctuary state law.

Supervisor Kirk Uhler had pushed for months for a discussion on the sanctuary state law but when talk ended Tuesday could find no support from fellow board members in opting out of the divisive state law.

The meeting was emotional at times, with outbursts of crying, applause and shouting.

But in the end, no vote was taken. Along with Duran, supervisors Jennifer Montgomery, Robert Weygandt and Jim Holmes voiced their unwillingness to support any direction to staff to join other counties opposing the California Values Act. Seeing that lack of support, Uhler declined to make any sort of motion and the meeting was adjourned.

Uhler had argued that the board should take a stand because the sanctuary state law was unconstitutional. The federal government is tasked with “adopting uniform rules of naturalization” while the state constitution stands silent on the issue, he said.

Supervisor Jack Duran countered that the county shouldn’t get involved in an issue that is being settled in the courts. He added that the Placer County Sheriff’s Office said the state sanctuary law had no impact on patrol duties and that the state sheriff’s association was making an effort to close any potentially dangerous loopholes regarding communications with ICE.

“This is a fight between state and federal government,” Duran said.

During testimony from the public, Placer County Republican Party Chairman Dennis Revell of Granite Bay told supervisors the issue wasn’t about legal vs. illegal immigration but one of public safety.

“It is really about our law-enforcement agencies being able to effectively fight criminals and coordinate with other agencies that do the same, in order to keep our neighborhoods safe,” Revell said.

Revell, like Uhler, had been campaigning since the early spring to have a board airing of the issue.

Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery said that she was moving forward under the belief, based on what the Sheriff’s Office said, that any action taken would be meaningless. She suggested that the county work with its Washington and Sacramento lobbyists to identify and to help resolve any issues that the Sheriff’s Office has on safety, however.

The chambers were fraught with tension throughout the meeting, with seven Sheriff’s Office deputies on hand to maintain order. There were several outbursts of angry words throughout the afternoon.

Among the more speakers was former Placer County sheriff’s deputy Dave Souza, who spoke on the death of his colleague — Detective Mike Davis in Oct. 2014.

“The man who did this was an illegal immigrant who was handcuffed in 1996 and 2001 and both times went back to Mexico,” Souza said, choking up as he spoke. “This is the reason why we don’t support illegal immigration.”

Tomas Evangelista of Auburn, describing himself as a DACA-protected resident, broke down in tears and was comforted by a woman in a “Dreamer” shirt as he collected himself to speak to the board.

Evangelista said that while Uhler maintained he was not making a value judgement in attempting to challenge the state, judgements were being made.

“The president of the United States has made a value judgement,” Evangelista said. “He is calling us criminals.”

 

 

ORIGINAL REPORT FROM JULY 10:

Tears, anger and emotions rubbed raw on both sides today as the divisive sanctuary state issue embroiled the Placer County Board of Supervisors chambers for more than three hours of heated discussion.

In the end, however, the board didn’t act on one supervisor’s request to take up the issue and possibly send a message to state legislators that it was joining 12 other counties and 42 cities in California opposing state Senate Bill 54.

Supervisor Kirk Uhler had pushed for a discussion on the sanctuary state law but could find no support in opting out of the state law during today’s session in Auburn.

The meeting was emotional at times, with outbursts of crying, applause and shouting.

But in the end, no action was taken. Keep watching this space Wednesday for key statements by supervisors and speakers during the meeting or pick up Thursday’s report with more photos in the print edition of the Journal.