(Justice Department photo)

Justice Department Sues California Over Sanctuary Laws

The Justice Department has filed a legal action against the state of California, California Gov. Jerry Brown, and Attorney General of California Xavier Becerra, seeking both declaratory and injunctive relief based upon the enactment and implementation of certain provisions of three California laws: Assembly Bill 450 (AB 450), Senate Bill 54 (SB 54) and Assembly Bill 103 (AB 103), which “intentionally obstruct and discriminate against the enforcement of federal immigration law,” the DOJ said today.

“The complaint contends that the laws in question are preempted by federal law and impermissibly target the Federal Government, and therefore violate the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution,” said a DOJ statement. “As a result, the Justice Department is seeking to permanently enjoin these state statutes, which are contrary to federal law and interfere with federal immigration authorities’ ability to carry out their lawful duties. In addition, the Justice Department is continuing to review other related California enactments.”

Following is an excerpt of Sessions’ remarks today before the 26th Annual Law Enforcement Legislative Day Hosted by the California Peace Officers’ Association in Sacramento:

“California, we have a problem. A series of actions and events has occurred that directly and adversely impact the work of our federal officers.

For example, the mayor of Oakland has been actively seeking to help illegal aliens avoid apprehension by ICE.  Her actions support those who flout our laws and boldly validate the illegality. There’s no other way to interpret her remarks.

To make matters worse, the elected Lieutenant Governor of this state praised her for doing so.  Bragging about and encouraging the obstruction of our law enforcement and the law is an embarrassment to this proud and important state.

Tom Homan, Acting Director of ICE has said that ‘being a law enforcement officer is already dangerous enough, but to give the criminals a heads up that we’re coming in the next 24 hours increases that risk. I watch [the mayor’s] statement when she said her priority is the safety of her community, but what she did has the exact opposite effect.’

According to Acting Director Homan, ICE failed to make 800 arrests that they would have made if the mayor had not acted as she did.

Those are 800 wanted aliens that are now at large in that community—most are wanted criminals that ICE will now have to pursue with more difficulty in more dangerous situations, all because of one mayor’s irresponsible action.

So here’s my message to Mayor Schaaf: How dare you. How dare you needlessly endanger the lives of law enforcement just to promote your radical open borders agenda.

But in California, we have an even bigger problem than just one mayor. The problems continue.

For example, in January, Ventura County declined a request from ICE to hold an alien Ventura had arrested for continuous sexual abuse of a child. Instead of being removed from this country, he was released back into the community and now our federal law enforcement will need to find him and arrest him wherever he may be.

In recent years, California has enacted a number of laws designed to intentionally obstruct the work of our sworn immigration enforcement officers—to intentionally use every power it has to undermine duly-established immigration law in America.

California won’t let employers voluntarily allow ICE agents on their property. And California requires employers to give notice to employees before ICE inspects their workplace.

When this law was before the California General Assembly, a Judiciary Committee report explicitly stated that its goal was to frustrate ‘an expected increase in federal immigration enforcement actions.’

ICE agents are federal law enforcement officers carrying out federal law. California cannot forbid them or obstruct them in doing their jobs.

Just imagine if a state passed a law forbidding employers from cooperating with OSHA in ensuring workplace safety. Or the EPA, looking for a polluter. That would obviously be absurd. But it would be no different in principle from this new law enacted by California.

And just think about the situation it puts California employers in. They want to help law enforcement. They want to do their civic duty. We ought to encourage that.

But your state attorney general has repeatedly said his office will prosecute these business owners. Let me quote: ‘ignorance of the law is no excuse if you violate it’ and ‘you are subjecting yourself to up to $10,000 [in fines] for violations.’

California has also claimed the authority to inspect facilities where ICE holds people in custody. Already this year, California has specifically and in a discriminatory manner targeted six facilities and demanded documents and other material from the Department of Homeland Security.

California won’t let law enforcement officers like you transfer prisoners into ICE custody or even communicate with ICE that you’re about to release someone they’re looking for. Remember that California found these people dangerous enough to detain them in the first place, but then insists on releasing them back into the community instead of allowing federal officers to remove them.

And rather than allow ICE officers to do their jobs at the jailhouse, they force these officers to conduct far more dangerous arrests elsewhere—where violent criminals may reside and where children can be caught in the crossfire.

That’s not just unconstitutional, it’s a plain violation of federal statute and common sense.

Importantly, these laws are harmful to Californians, and they’re especially harmful to law enforcement.

That’s why the Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit yesterday against the state of California to invalidate these unjust laws and to immediately freeze their effect. Federal agents must be able to do the job that Congress has directed them to do.

Contrary to what you might hear from the lawless open borders radicals, we are not asking California, Oakland, or anyone else to enforce immigration laws.

Although we would welcome the positive assistance the majority of jurisdictions in America provide, ICE agents do incredible work every day. They will not be deterred.

We are simply asking California and other sanctuary jurisdictions to stop actively obstructing federal law enforcement.

Stop treating immigration agents differently from everybody else for the purpose of eviscerating border controls and advancing an open borders philosophy shared by only the most radical extremists. Stop protecting lawbreakers and giving all officers more dangerous work to do so that a few politicians can score political points on the backs of officer safety.

You are professionals. You understand the risks involved.

Think about the officers knocking on a door to execute a warrant. They don’t know what’s on the other side. It’s not fair to them to keep putting them in that situation by releasing criminal aliens into the community who shouldn’t even be in the country. I sign condolence letters for law enforcement killed in the line of duty; I fundamentally reject, at my core, that we should further endanger the lives of those who risk everything for us just because some officials in California wants to violate the law in promotion of their radical agenda.

California is using every power it has—and some it doesn’t—to frustrate federal law enforcement. So you can be sure I’m going to use every power I have to stop them.

We are going to fight these irrational, unfair, and unconstitutional policies that have been imposed on you and our federal officers. We are fighting to make your jobs safer and to help you reduce crime in America. We are fighting to have a lawful system of immigration that serves Americans. And we intend to win.”

The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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