A lawsuit was filed late Tuesday night by the Trump administration, led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, against the state of California, along with Governor Jerry Brown and California’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, for recently-passed state laws that they say block the federal government’s ability to enforce immigration policies, according to The New York Times.
Liberal California has declared themselves a “sanctuary state,” meaning that undocumented immigrants can be protected from deportation within its borders. Three laws upholding the state’s sanctuary status have ignited the federal government’s most offensive move yet against these sanctuary state’s motives.
One law, which prevents business owners from assisting immigration officers by allowing access to workers’ files without a court order, comes with a $10,000 fine attached to it, according to Becerra. Another, the California Values Act, prohibits state and local law enforcement from sharing information about the status of inmates unless they have been convicted of serious crimes. The third law in question allows state officials to inspect immigration detention centers in California.
The Justice Department has declared these laws unconstitutional, asserting that they “reflect a deliberate effort by California to obstruct the United States’ enforcement of federal immigration law,” according to The New York Times. This assertion is in accordance with the Constitution’s supremacy clause, which states that federal law has precedence over state legislation.
A number of states and an even greater number of cities in the U.S. have declared themselves sanctuary territories, and Sessions and President Trump himself have made threats to pull federal funding from those areas with sanctuary laws, though this move was blocked by a federal court last year. The New York Times said that this lawsuit can be seen as a warning to nationwide Democratic policies that allow the protection of undocumented aliens.
According to The LA Times, the federal administration said that other cities and states looking to draft bills similar to California’s will likely also be targeted in the future.
— Xavier Becerra (@AGBecerra) March 7, 2018
This isn’t the first instance of the federal government taking legal action against a state. The Obama administration filed against Georgia due to the segregation of students with disabilities and again against North Carolina for their failure to allow transgender students access to the restroom facilities they identified with. Sessions has since thrown out the case against North Carolina.
ABC News reported that Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf recently enacted a policy to alert the city of looming immigration sweeps. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement reportedly said that this policy enabled hundreds of immigrants to evade arrest.
Though the most direct move to enforce immigration policy by the Trump administration thus far, California’s officials are ready to put up a fight.
In a statement, Brown called the lawsuit a political stunt, and mocked the president’s recognizable Twitter cadence in a statement: “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 don’t work here. SAD!!!”
“In California, our state laws work in concert with federal law,” Becerra told The New York Times. “Our teams work together to go after drug dealers and go after gang violence. What we won’t do is change from being focused on public safety. We’re in the business of public safety, not deportation.”