President Donald Trump’s Justice Department filed a suit against the state of California on Tuesday modeled after one brought against Arizona by former President Barack Obama’s DOJ, which affirmed the federal government’s authority to set immigration policy.
In 2010, then Attorney General Eric Holder sued Arizona over state law S.B. 1070, which — in accordance with federal law — required any aliens in the United States to have proper identification at all times, and empowered state law enforcement officers to attempt to determine immigration status during “lawful stop, detention or arrest” for other suspected crimes.
Additionally, it barred state and local officials or agencies from restricting enforcement of immigration laws, and imposed penalties on sheltering, hiring or transporting unregistered aliens.
“Setting immigration policy and enforcing immigration laws is a national responsibility,” Holder stated at the time regarding his decision to sue Arizona over the law. “Seeking to address the issue through a patchwork of state laws will only create more problems than it solves.”
Holder further argued that the Constitution “forbids” Arizona from replacing federal policy “with its own state-specific immigration policy.”
The Supreme Court, by-in-large, agreed with the Obama administration’s argument, finding immigration law is the purview of the federal government. However, it did affirm the ability of state law enforcement officials to seek to ascertain the immigration status of those stopped for other suspected criminal activity.
“The National Government has significant power to regulate immigration,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion. “Arizona may have understandable frustrations with the problems caused by illegal immigration while that process continues, but the State may not pursue policies that undermine federal law.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ DOJ plans to make exactly that point in a case filed in federal court in Sacramento.
He announced the case in the state’s capital on Wednesday. “A refusal to apprehend and deport (illegal aliens), especially the criminal element, effectively rejects all immigration law. It’s a rejection of law and creates and open borders system,” he told a gathering of state and local law enforcement officials.
Sessions specifically singled out Oakland’s Mayor Libby Schaff, who tipped off criminal illegal aliens of an impending Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid in the city.
“So here’s my message to Mayor Schaff,” Sessions said. “How dare you, how dare you needlessly endanger the lives of our law enforcement officers to promote a radical open borders agenda?”
Politico reported the DOJ’s suit against California is modeled after the one brought by the Obama administration.
The lawsuit alleges obstruction of federal immigration enforcement and targets three “sanctuary state” focused laws passed by the legislature in 2017.
S.B. 54 prohibits state and local officials from sharing information with federal immigration officials and also bars the transfer of certain immigrants into federal custody.
A.B. 450 forbids private employers from cooperating with the federal government with immigration enforcement at the workplace.
Finally, A.B. 103 attempts to regulate detention facilities used by the federal government to hold immigration prisoners.
California Gov. Jerry Brown accused the Trump administration of pulling a “political stunt” by filing the suit.
“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!!!” Brown wrote on Twitter.
Meanwhile, the Golden State’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra claimed that the new laws are in compliance with the Constitution and other federal laws.
“We’re following the Constitution and federal law,” he told reporters in a conference call on Tuesday. “We’re doing nothing to intrude in the work of the federal government to do immigration enforcement. We recognize and respect that the federal government has authority over immigration enforcement.”
Washington Times columnist Charles Hurt pointed out on Fox News on Wednesday that California is trying to do the exact opposite of what the Supreme Court ruled in the Arizona case the state has the authority to do.
“The federal government has the exclusive right to set the immigration policy,” he said the court held. “California is saying, ‘We have the right to thwart the federal government from enforcing immigration law.'”
Fox News political analyst Chris Stirewalt added, “If the state of California thinks it can tell employers in its state whether or not it can cooperate with the federal government as it relates to the immigration status of the individuals who work for that company they are high on their own supply.”
He continued, that the immigration laws were “absolutely a political stunt the California legislature undertook in response to Donald Trump’s election.”
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