The Trump Administration's attempts to challenge a California law protecting undocumented immigrants will not go forward after the U.S. Supreme Court declined this week to hear the case.
California's Sanctuary Law, which was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2017, limits cooperation between local and state agencies with federal immigration officers.
"Anyone who commits a local crime can be picked up by local law enforcement and will be. But we're not going to do the federal law enforcement job for them," Kraig Rice, a Santa Maria immigration attorney, said.
The state law has been a constant target of Pres. Trump, who has called the legislation "outrageous" and asked the high court to step in and reverse a lower court ruling that maintained the law.
The U.S. Supreme Court decided Monday against hearing the issue.
Mike Latner, a Cal Poly professor of political science, said the conservative-leaning high court tends not to intervene in states' rights.
"The president wasn't necessarily looking for a legal victory here, this was a very weak case, to begin with," Latner said. "This is more of the president's political platform, he's trying to use fear of an immigrant invasion as part of his political strategy."
A 2017 report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy estimates about 8,600 undocumented immigrants reside in San Luis Obispo County and about 39,400 in Santa Barbara County.
Rice, who has represented clients in Santa Barbara County, said the protections afforded to undocumented immigrants entices them to make court appearances for traffic violations, child support issues, and other low-level offenses.
"We want to promote them to go to court and if they're afraid that if they show up for a local or state hearing that they'll be detained or handed over to ICE, that local law enforcement trust is eroded," Rice said.
With the lower court ruling intact, undocumented immigrants accused of committing a misdemeanor crime in California cannot be turned over to ICE.
"The distinction between serious and non-serious crimes is an important one because if local law enforcement is forced to act as immigration officers for low-level crimes, that's going to use a tremendous amount of resources," Latner said.
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to release a decision on a challenge to DACA, Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals, as soon as next week.