By Drew Gregory Lynch.
The Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against the state of California over its defiance of federal immigration enforcement efforts, just the latest high-profile legal battle between Washington and the Golden State.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is making the formal announcement Wednesday during remarks at the Annual Law Enforcement Legislative Day hosted by the California Peace Officers’ Association in Sacramento.
“The Department of Justice and the Trump administration are going to fight these unjust, unfair, and unconstitutional policies that have been imposed on you,” Sessions said in released excerpts ahead of the address. “We are fighting to make your jobs safer and to help you reduce crime in America. And I believe we are going to win.”
The lawsuit focuses on three separate California laws: Senate Bill 54, Assembly Bill 450 and AB103 – a trio of legislation making up the state’s “sanctuary” policy.
The suit asks the federal court to block the enforcement of these laws statewide.
“Sanctuary jurisdictions” have dominated the national dialogue on immigration in recent years, with critics saying it creates a safe haven for criminal aliens, while proponents arguing it provides a safer environment for the undocumented to come forward and report crimes without fear of deportation.
In response to Sessions’ actions, California Democratic leaders swiftly responded, condemning the lawsuit as a political stunt.
“At a time of unprecedented political turmoil, Jeff Sessions has come to California to further divide and polarize America,” Gov. Jerry Brown tweeted.
“Trump and Sessions think they can bully California – but it won’t work,” U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., added.
But the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen praised the decision.
“California has chosen to purposefully contradict the will and the responsibility of the Congress to protect our homeland,” Nielsen said in a statement. “I appreciate the efforts of Attorney General Sessions and the Department of Justice to uphold the rule of law and protect American communities.”
The decision by the Justice Department is perhaps the boldest yet in taking aim at the alleged obstruction of federal law, going on offense after a series of suits filed against the administration from California’s attorney general Xavier Becerra on issues like immigration and climate change.
“No matter what happens in Washington, #California will stay the course and enforce all our laws and protect all our people. That’s how we keep our communities safe. #Immigration,” Becerra wrote in response to the news.
More recently, Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf grabbed national headlines after she warned area residents of upcoming ICE raids, with agency officials accusing her of promoting lawless and undercutting federal authority.