The Trump administration has officially taken California to court in an effort to undo state legislation that protects undocumented immigrants.
While visiting Sacramento this week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions vilified the state over three laws, accusing them of being unconstitutional and of interfering with federal immigration law. Department of Justice lawyers filed the suit in federal court on Tuesday.
“California, we have a problem,” Sessions said in a speech to law enforcement officials Wednesday, The New York Times reports. “A series of actions and events have occurred here that directly and adversely impact the work of our federal officers.”
The targeted laws signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2017 cover three main areas: preventing the communication of local officials to federal officials over release dates of immigrants except in serious criminal cases, restricting the cooperation of private employers, and requiring federal officials to inspect and review of immigrant detention facilities in California.
Brown and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra are directly named in the suit — and are ready for the fight.
“This is basically going to war against the state of California, the engine of the American economy,” Brown said in a press conference Wednesday. “It’s not wise, it’s not right and it will not stand.”
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!!!
— Jerry Brown (@JerryBrownGov) March 7, 2018
Although state laws are the center of the federal lawsuit, San Francisco put sanctuary cities on President Donald Trump’s radar when Jose Garcia Zarate, an undocumented immigrant, set off the gun that ultimately killed Kate Steinle. He was found not guilty of murder charges.
Like other state and local officials, Mayor Mark Farrell promptly characterized the move as political, not a matter of enforcing federal law. The city has routinely stated it honors all criminal warrants.
“Your threats will not change who we are. They will not deter our mission. They will not shake our beliefs,” Farrell said in a statement directed toward Sessions. “This is about attacking communities and residents who do not adhere to the government’s fear-based and divisive agenda.”
District Attorney George Gascón also called the timing of the lawsuit and recent raids “suspicious,” considering the low presidential approval ratings as midterm elections ramp up.
“It’s time for the American public to see this racist stunt for what it is: A perverse use of power that prioritizes politics over public safety,” Gascón said in a statement. “This is a portrait of dragnet-style immigration enforcement, which studies have shown time and time again makes communities less safe, not more.”