U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Wednesday that he won’t back down from a lawsuit aimed at stopping California authorities from flouting federal immigration laws
‘Immigration law is the province of the federal government. It’s in the Constitution,’ he told the California Peace Officers Association.
‘I don’t want to be in this position of having to challenge these laws. It wasn’t something I chose to do, but I can’t sit by idly while the lawful authorities of federal officers are being blocked by legislative actions and politicians,’ he added.
Sessions is taking the fight over the nation’s immigration policy directly to California by suing to block state laws that extend protections to people living in the U.S. illegally.
The Justice Department’s legal action is the most aggressive move yet in the Trump administration’s push to force so-called sanctuary cities and states to cooperate with immigration authorities.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Wednesday that his new lawsuit will stop California governments from standing in the way of federal immigration enforcement
‘How dare you?’ Sessions asked of Oakland, California Mayor Libby Schaaf, after she warned illegal immigrants last month about potential ICE raids in her city
California is using ‘powers it doesn’t have to frustrate federal law enforcement. So you can be sure I’m going to use every power I have to stop them,’ Sessions warned.
‘We’re not going to stop enforcing the law in Alabama or in California either for that matter. We are simply asking California and other sanctuary jurisdictions to stop actively obstructing federal law enforcement.’
The attorney general is challenging three California laws that, among other things, bar police from asking people about their citizenship status or participating in federal immigration enforcement activities.
The suit filed in federal court in Sacramento says the laws are unconstitutional and have kept federal agents from doing their jobs.
Sessions said Wednesday that California can’t practice ‘nullification’ or legal ‘secession’ by choosing which federal laws to obey.
‘Federal law is the supreme law of the land. … This matter has been settled,’ he said.
California is using ‘powers it doesn’t have to frustrate federal law enforcement. So you can be sure I’m going to use every power I have to stop them,’ Sessions warned the California Peace Officers Association
California Gov. Jerry Brown mocked Sessions, employing a Trumpian ‘Sad!!!’ on Twitter
Sessions filed a lawsuit Tuesday night that challenges ‘sanctuary state’ and ‘sanctuary city’ laws in California, claiming they’re unconstitutional because they interfere with the federal government’s ability to enforce immigration law
‘We are fighting to have a lawful system of immigration, one that we can be proud of, one that’s consistently applied, fairly applied,’ he said, ‘and we intend to win this fight.’
Protesters massed outside the speech, marching with anti-Sessions and anti-Trump signs, according to KCRA-TV3.
California officials remained defiant, with Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown mimicking President Trump on Twitter as he criticized Sessions for coming to Sacramento ‘to further divide and polarize America. Jeff, these political stunts may be the norm in Washington, but they don’t work here. SAD!!!’
Brown said in a morning press conference after Sessions’ speech that ‘there is no doubt that the police can do their job,’ but ‘the federal government ought to do its job and not blame California for its own inability to solve the problem.’
He urged Sessions to ‘get off of this current maneuver that you are on, because it is unbecoming, it’s based on non-truth, and I hope you’ll will shape up before it is too late.’
‘They’re talking about going to the Supreme Court,’ he added. ‘This lawsuit is going to last a lot longer than the Trump administration.’
In a personal swipe, the governor said that ‘this is pure red meat for the base, I would assume, but this is pure speculation that Jeff thinks Donald [Trump] will be happy with him. And I’m sure Donald will be tweeting his joy with this stunt.’
Brown is named in the lawsuit along with Democratic Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who said the state is on firm legal footing.
‘Our track record so far when it comes to any dispute with the federal government has been pretty good,’ Becerra said.
Protesters massed outside the speech, marching with anti-Sessions and anti-Trump signs
Gov. Jerry Brown swiped at Sessions: ‘This is pure red meat for the base … Jeff thinks Donald will be happy with him. And I’m sure Donald will be tweeting his joy with this stunt’
California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Wednesday that the lawsuit shows that administration’ continues to attack California in an attempt to score points with the president’s political base. These attacks are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.’
‘California should not be punished for trying to shield immigrants from deportation and keep families together, and I fully support Attorney General Becerra in his efforts to defend our state,’ she added.
The lawsuit is the latest salvo in an escalating feud between the Trump administration and the Golden State, which has resisted the president on issues from taxes to marijuana policy and defiantly refuses to help federal agents detain and deport illegal 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.
‘I say: Bring it on,’ said California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles Democrat who wrote the so-called sanctuary state bill.
Democratic Assembly Speaker Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon was among those suggesting that Sessions shouldn’t come at all.
The lawsuit was 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.
Schaaf said Tuesday the city would ‘continue to inform all residents about their constitutional rights.’
But Sessions said Wednesday that she ‘has been actively seeking to help illegal aliens avoid apprehension.’
‘Her actions support those who flout the law and boldly validate illegality,’ he said. ‘There’s no other way to interpret those remarks.’
‘Here’s my message to Mayor Schaaf: How dare you? How dare you needlessly endanger the lives of law enforcement officers to promote your radical open borders agenda?’
The California laws were passed in response to Trump’s promises to sharply ramp up the deportation of people living in the U.S. illegally.
One prohibits employers from letting immigration agents enter worksites or view employee files without a subpoena or warrant, an effort to prevent workplace raids. Another stops local governments from contracting with for-profit companies and ICE to hold immigrants.
Justice Department officials said that violates the Constitution’s supremacy clause, which renders invalid state laws that conflict with federal ones.
The Supreme Court reinforced the federal government’s primacy in enforcing immigration law when it blocked much of Arizona’s tough 2010 immigration law on similar grounds.
The high court found several key provisions undermined federal immigration law, though it upheld a provision requiring officers, while enforcing other laws, to question the immigration status of people suspected of being in the country illegally.
In this case, ‘California has chosen to purposefully contradict the will and responsibility of Congress to protect our homeland,’ Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement. ‘I appreciate the efforts of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice to uphold the rule of law and protect American communities.’
Sessions, who has blamed sanctuary city policies for crime and gang violence, is set to speak Wednesday to groups representing police chiefs, sheriffs, district attorneys, narcotics investigators and the California Highway Patrol. Only the California State Sheriffs’ Association actively opposed the so-called sanctuary law.
Protesters from labor unions, Democratic Party and immigrant rights organizations planned to rally along with some state and local elected officials outside the hotel where Sessions will speak.
Becerra, who is up for election in November, said sanctuary policies increase public safety by promoting trust between immigrant communities and law enforcement, while allowing police resources to be used to fight other crimes.
‘We’re in the business of public safety, not deportation,’ he said.