Local blogger and conservative activist Arthur Schaper recently broke the news that the City of Torrance opposes Senate Bill 54. The news makes Torrance one of only 4 California cities that have expressed formal opposition to the so called “Sanctuary” bill. The other three cities are West Covina, Glendora, and Camarillo.
Torrance’s opposition to SB 54 is ironic in that, as recently as a few months ago, the City continued to maintain a longstanding police department policy of not honoring ICE detainer requests. That “sanctuary policy” appears to be in direct conflict with a recent Executive Order on the subject issued by President Trump. Torrance’s decision on SB 54 therefore puts it in the awkward position of being opposed to California becoming a “sanctuary” state, while at the same time maintaining a policy that could define it as a “sanctuary” city.
The mysterious process by which the City arrived at the decision is also noteworthy as the matter was never brought before the City Council for a vote. For that reason, it is unclear who within the City made the policy decision to oppose the bill. The lack of formal action by the Council also begs the question of who actually holds the authority to speak for the City and its residents on matters such as this.
Other opposing cities, such as West Covina and Glendora, held press conferences and debated the issue openly. Torrance held no public hearing and made no public announcement opting instead to quietly submit a letter to Speaker of Assembly Anthony Rendon.
The decision not to make a public announcement is curious given that many activists and local residents attended council meetings in recent months urging the Council to take a public stance opposing the bill. One of those activists, Joseph Turner, even appeared before the Council and threatened to mount a campaign to defund the City by repealing Utility User Tax revenues should the Council not act.
Turner’s appeal before the Council came on May 16th, 2017. Torrance’s letter to the Speaker of the Assembly is dated May 15th, 2017. Thus, in a strange confluence of events Torrance had, just one day prior to Turner’s appearance, already taken a formal position on SB 54 that agreed with Turner. Yet, oddly, all of the City officials at the meeting chose to remain silent on the matter instead of simply informing Turner and the public of their decision.
The letter declaring Torrance’s position was signed by Mayor Furey and reads:
“I am writing to express our opposition to Senate Bill 54, which would limit law enforcement abilities to protect all individuals regardless of immigration status … Public safety is the primary concern of local law enforcement, not immigration. However, SB 54 restricts partnerships between local law enforcement and federal enforcement agencies, imposes mandatory reporting requirements, and hinders investigations by federal law enforcement agencies within local jails; taken together this bill would severely restrict law enforcement abilities to protect the public.”
The letter also expressed concern that passing SB 54 could lead to the potential loss of federal funding as the current federal administration has indicated that it intends to withhold federal funding from “sanctuary” states.