Justice Dept. suing Calif.
The Trump administration is suing to block California laws that extend protections to people living in the U.S. illegally, the most aggressive move yet in its push to force so-called sanctuary cities and states to cooperate with immigration authorities. California officials remained characteristically defiant, vowing to defend their landmark legislation.
Justice Department officials said Tuesday that a trio of state laws that, among other things, bar police from asking people about their citizenship status or participating in federal immigration enforcement activities are unconstitutional and have kept federal agents from doing their jobs. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is expected to announce the lawsuit today at an annual gathering of law-enforcement officers in Sacramento. It names as defendants the state of California, Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
“I say, bring it on,” said California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles Democrat who wrote the sanctuary state bill.
It is the latest salvo in an escalating feud between the Trump administration and California, which has resisted the president on issues such as taxes and marijuana policy and defiantly refuses to help federal agents detain and deport undocumented immigrants. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has said it will increase its presence in California, and Sessions wants to cut off funding to jurisdictions that won’t cooperate.
The lawsuit is being filed as the Justice Department also reviews Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s decision to warn of an immigration sweep in advance, which ICE said allowed hundreds of immigrants to elude detention.
The state laws being challenged were a response to President Donald Trump’s hawkish immigration policies and widespread fear in immigrant communities after a campaign in which he promised to sharply ramp up the deportation of people living in the U.S. illegally.