Ahead of a vote to decide if San Diego County will throw its support behind a lawsuit against California’s so-called "Sanctuary" laws, supporters and opponents rallied to sway opinion.
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to consider Tuesday joining the Department of Justice’s lawsuit against the state of California over laws that limit police collaboration with immigration enforcement agents.
About 50 people were expected to deliver a public testimony to the board before the board's vote.
Outside the meeting, demonstrators showed their support for Calfornia's current immigration laws. The same group demonstrated outside County Supervisor John Horn’s district office in North County on Monday.
Simultaneously, an opposition group composed of some city leaders, including Escondido Mayor Sam Abed and San Marcos Mayor Jim Desmond gathered in North County to urge the board to support the Trump Administration’s lawsuit. The group believes California’s sanctuary laws are unconstitutional.
"This is an issue, ultimately, of shielding criminals and putting them back in the community when we should be shielding our neighborhoods," former politician Carl DeMaio said. "The public safety should be what’s driving this discussion not some cheap attempt to divide us among racial lines."
While in Washington, D.C. Tuesday for a National Press Club event, Gov. Brown addressed critics of his immigration policies saying, "it's time to just chill."
"They are human beings. They have families," the governor said, adding that they do important jobs that are integrated into the state's economy. He said there was nothing in current laws that stops any local officials from notifying immigration agents of a person's release.
Immigration has been a hot topic across the country since President Donald Trump campaigned in 2016 on promises of tougher enforcement and a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Under Democratic leadership, California has enacted a series of laws in recent years aimed at helping immigrants, including issuing driver licenses regardless of legal status and assisting with tuition at state universities. After Trump was elected, lawmakers passed the measure to limit police collaboration with federal immigration agents.
Immigrant and civil rights advocates applauded the measure, known as SB54, as a way to encourage immigrants to report a crime to police without fearing deportation. Critics said it would make it too hard for federal agents to find and deport ex-convicts who are a danger to communities.
"We feel that San Diego as a county has an obligation to uphold state law and we hope that they also uphold the value of families and keep families safe and together," Adriana Jasso, with American Friends Service Committee, said.
The board is expected to vote on whether to support the lawsuit during a closed session Tuesday afternoon.