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Trump administration sues California over sanctuary laws

“Boldest attack yet against California”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Photo by Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

The U.S. Justice Department filed suit in federal court Tuesday against California, claiming the state’s sanctuary city laws interferes with federal government’s ability to crack down on illegal immigration. The Trump administration has been at odds with California ever since the Golden State refused to comply.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions will announce the lawsuit Wednesday in Sacramento at a gathering of law enforcement officers. According to ABC 7, the lawsuit “names as defendants the state of California, Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Xavier Becerra.”

The New York Times has more:

The lawsuit was the department’s boldest attack yet against California, one of the strongest opponents of the Trump administration’s efforts to curb immigration. It also served as a warning to Democratic lawmakers and elected officials nationwide who have enacted sanctuary policies that provide protections for undocumented immigrants.

“The Department of Justice and the Trump administration are going to fight these unjust, unfair and unconstitutional policies that have been imposed on you,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions planned to say on Wednesday at a law enforcement event in Sacramento, according to prepared remarks. “I believe that we are going to win.”

In response to the lawsuit, Gov. Brown said via Twitter, “At a time of unprecedented political turmoil, Jeff Sessions has come to California to further divide and polarize America. Jeff, these political stunts may be the norm in Washington, but they won’t work here.”

Former Los Angeles mayor and California gubernatorial candidate Antonio Villaraigosa also took to social media after the announcement, saying, “This is California, and we’re not going to back down from defending our values and the immigrants who contribute so much to our state. Our country and our state were built on the backs of immigrants, and we can’t turn our backs on them now.”

And San Francisco mayor Mark Farrell had this to say, “Jeff Sessions is coming to CA tomorrow to attack our sanctuary policies. This will not be the first time, nor the last, the Feds will attack our city and our values. I am committed to defending and supporting our sanctuary city policies.”

In part, the lawsuit reads:

In this action, the United States seeks a declaration invalidating and preliminarily and permanently enjoining the enforcement of certain provisions of California law. These provisions are preempted by federal law and impermissibly discriminate against the United States, and therefore violate the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution.

The United States has undoubted, preeminent authority to regulate immigration matters. This authority derives from the United States Constitution and numerous acts of Congress. California has no authority to enforce laws that obstruct or otherwise conflict with, or discriminate against, federal immigration enforcement efforts.

This lawsuit challenges three California statutes that reflect a deliberate effort by California to obstruct the United States’ enforcement of federal immigration law, to regulate private entities that seek to cooperate with federal authorities consistent with their obligations under federal law, and to impede consultation and communication between federal and state law enforcement officials.

Read the entire lawsuit here.

In addition to threatening to withhold federal grant money from cities and states who don’t fall in line with new immigration enforcement, the administration, the New York Times goes on to note, is “also exploring possible criminal charges for local politicians who enact sanctuary policies.”

This isn’t the first time California has fought back against Trump’s agenda. The state also battles with the president over issues like taxes and marijuana policy.

A sanctuary city, as Curbed reported in 2017, “refers to a city or municipality that refuses to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement.” Recent laws, which demands local government officials and authorities push harder about checking immigration status, have promoted more cities to declare themselves sanctuary cities.

More than 300 jurisdictions nationwide called for resistance against the crackdown.