The Department of Justice is suing California over sanctuary laws that interfere with immigration enforcement.
Sacramento, CA – One day after a Maryland court ruled that President Donald Trump’s phase-out of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was legal, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is in Sacramento to announce a federal lawsuit against the state and its top officials that puts a stop to so-called “sanctuary state” laws.
“The Department of Justice and the Trump administration are going to fight these unjust, unfair, and unconstitutional policies that have been imposed on you,” Sessions was expected to say at the California Peace Officers Association gathering on Wednesday, CNN reported, according to a copy of his prepared remarks. “We are fighting to make your jobs safer and to help you reduce crime in America. And I believe that we are going to win.”
California Governor Jerry Brown and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra are both named as defendants in the lawsuit.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) is trying to get rid of three laws that were passed last year which made it a crime for business owners to voluntarily help federal immigration officials find and detain illegal immigrants, prohibited local law enforcement from alerting immigration officials when illegal aliens were released from custody after having been arrested, and created a state inspection program for federal immigration detention centers, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“California has chosen to purposefully contradict the will and responsibility of the Congress to protect our Homeland,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement thanking Sessions efforts to “uphold the rule of law and protect American communities.”
Officials said that other states who try to pass sanctuary laws will be targeted, too.
Supporters of sanctuary state laws are concerned that President Trump’s administration has a stronger position on this issue than it has had in other immigration battles where they sought to ban immigrants from certain countries.
The Los Angeles Times reported that California was in uncharted legal territory, imposing barriers aimed at undermining federal law enforcement efforts.
In its argument, the DoJ has cited multiple incidents recently when California’s new laws prevented Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents from taking people arrested for serious crimes into custody.
They have cited Ventura County’s recent refusal to turn over a suspect arrested for sexual abuse of a minor, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Sacramento County jail officials also refused to hand over a car-theft suspect to ICE, and Alameda County jail officials wouldn’t turn over a convicted drug dealer arrested for felony drug possession while armed.
State officials claim those examples are the exception rather than the rule, but not all California lawmakers are on board with the sanctuary policies, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Sanctuary state advocates claim that more than half of Californians support making the state an official sanctuary for illegal immigrants; however, a 2015 study for University of California – Berkeley actually showed something quite different. That poll discovered that 74 percent of respondents opposed sanctuary policies, according to Politifact California.