Pranksters with a political message posted at least two official-looking signs over the weekend welcoming criminals, gang members and undocumented immigrants to the newly declared “sanctuary state” of California, including one along Interstate 15 at the border with Nevada.
The signs, realistic-looking paper coverings taped over existing metal road signs, read, “OFFICIAL SANCTUARY STATE: Felons, Illegals and MS13 Welcome! Democrats need the votes!” The MS-13 is a violent international gang, composed mainly of Central Americans, that formed in the Los Angeles area in the 1980s.
The California Department of Transportation removed fake signs posted on I-15 near Primm and another on Interstate 40 near Needles, California, on Monday and Tuesday.
The department received calls reporting three more, including one near the Arizona-California border and two at the Oregon-California line, though those signs were not located.
The signs referenced sanctuary state legislation signed Oct. 5 by Democratic California Gov. Jerry Brown. Sanctuary cities, though not legally defined, limit the situations in which local law enforcement cooperates with federal immigration agents.
Nevada’s Democrat-led Legislature considered taking a similar step during the 2017 Legislative session. Senate Bill 223, which never advanced out of the Judiciary Committee, would have prevented state and local officers from participating in immigration enforcement.
The debate over the policies pits those who argue sanctuary policies offer protection to hoodlums against those who say they provide a sense of safety that encourages undocumented residents to report crimes.
Since the failed legislative bid in Nevada, the battle has shifted to the ballot box and the courts.
State Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson is leading an effort to get an anti-sanctuary initiative on the ballot to amend the state Constitution to ban cities or other localities from passing sanctuary-type policies.
The American Civil Liberties Union Nevada chapter responded by suing in November to halt the drive, arguing the proposed amendment would put public safety at risk.
Meanwhile, California highway maintenance crews took the signs down and disposed of them. The department doesn’t plan to ask the California Highway Patrol to investigate, California Transportation Department spokesman Mark Dinger said.