By Miriam Raftery
March 8, 2018 (Sacramento) – The U.S. Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against California, as well as the state’s governor and attorney general. The suit claims that three specific “sanctuary” laws aimed at protecting some undocumented immigrants are unconstitutional.
The three targeted laws, KPPC reports, are:
SB 54, the Sanctuary State Law, which allows sheriff officials to notify immigration authorities about release of a detained individual only if the person had committed one of 800 serious crimes, but not for petty offenses;
AB 450, the Immigrant Worker Protection Act, which prohibits workplace raids by federal immigration officials without a warrant; and
AB 103, which allows the state attorney general to regulate conditions in federal immigration detention facilities, among other provisions.
The Trump administration is relying on a precedent sent by an Obama administration challenge to tough immigration policies set by the state of Arizona, a case that conservatives lost and the Obama administration won.
“Federal law determines immigration policy,” Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Fox news. “The state of California is not entitled to block that activity.”
But legal experts say it’s far from clear whether the Trump administration will prevail, and that suing California runs the risk of a major loss for the Trump administration. At least one court has ruled that the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigrants is unconstitutional, violating the 10th amendment which protects states’ rights.
“States and local jurisdictions have the right to determine which policies are best for their communities,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra told the Washington Post. Becerra insists the state is following the Constitution and federal law, adding, “We recognize and respect that the federal government has authority over immigration enforcement,” Politico reports.
Governor Brown, on Twitter, called the suit a political stunt aiming to “further divide and polarize America.”
State Senate leader Kevin de Leon told Politico, “If U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is suing California because we refuse to help the Trump administration tear apart honest, hard-working families, I say ‘Bring it on,’” adding, “Based on the U.S. Department of Justice’s track record, I like our odds.”