LOS ALAMITOS — Leaders of a small California city have given preliminary approval to a measure to exempt the city from a state law that limits cooperation between local police and federal immigration agents.
Councilmembers in the Orange County city of Los Alamitos voted 4-1 Monday night in favor of an ordinance to opt out of California's law, citing constitutional concerns. A required second vote is expected on April 16.
The vote followed intense comments by residents who packed the tiny council chambers to speak for and against the effort to distance the city of 12,000 people from California's so-called sanctuary law, which bars police in many cases from turning arrestees over for deportation.
Mayor Troy Edgar said police in the community 20 miles (32 kilometers) southeast of downtown Los Angeles have not raised concerns about California's law. But he said he complaints from residents who said the state intruded into local governance with the law and felt his small city should take a stand.
"It's just kind of hit a boiling point for us," Edgar said.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and other immigrant advocates said the city must follow California law and will be sued if the measure passes.
"State law is not a recommendation," said Emi MacLean, staff attorney at the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. "It is not optional. It is binding."