SACRAMENTO—On Tuesday, March 6, the United States Justice Department announced that it would seek legal action against the state of California’s for its immigration laws that protect “sanctuary cities.”

The complaint is against the state of California, Governor Jerry Brown and the state’s Attorney General Xavier Beccera. The complaint cites three recently enacted immigration laws that allegedly inhibit federal laws and officers. The lawsuit states that these laws “reflect a deliberate effort by California to obstruct the United States’ enforcement of federal immigration law.”

The term sanctuary state is derived from the state’s unwillingness to aid federal officers in the enforcement of federal immigration laws when it conflicts with their law enforcement procedures.

US Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, released his prepared remarks in advance of a speech at a Sacramento law enforcement event, in which he stated, “The Department of Justice and the Trump administration are going to fight these unjust, unfair and unconstitutional policies that have been imposed on you.” He added, “We are fighting to make your jobs safer and to help you reduce crime in America. And I believe that we are going to win.”

“Our duty at the Department of Homeland Security is to enforce and uphold the nation’s security laws as passed by the U.S. Congress and signed by the President,” said Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen for the Department of Homeland Security.  “California has chosen to purposefully contradict the will and responsibility of the Congress to protect our homeland. I appreciate the efforts of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice to uphold the rule of law and protect American communities.”

Governor Brown indicated in a statement:

“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 signed Senate Bill 54, the California State Senate on October 5, 2017, where he stated:

“This bill states that local authorities will not ask about immigration status during routine interactions.  It also bans unconstitutional detainer requests and prohibits the commandeering of local officials to do the work of immigration agents.  The bill further directs our Attorney General to promulgate model policies for local and state health, education, labor and judiciary officials to follow when they deal with immigration matters.

In enshrining these new protections, it is important to note what the bill does not do.  This bill does not prevent or prohibit Immigration and Customs Enforcement or the Department of Homeland Security from doing their own work in any way.  They are free to use their own considerable resources to enforce federal immigration law in California.  Moreover, the bill does not prohibit sheriffs from granting immigration authorities access to California jails to conduct routine interviews, nor does it prevent cooperation in deportation proceedings for anyone in state prison or for those in local jails for any of the hundreds of serious offenses listed in the TRUST Act.

These are uncertain times for undocumented Californians and their families, and this bill strikes a balance that will protect public safety, while bringing a measure of comfort to those families who are now living in fear every day.”

The lawsuit from the Department of Justice comes on the heels of a statement made by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, where she publicly warned individuals of an imminent Bay Area ICE raid, which allowed several targets to evade the sweep. Over 150 illegal immigrants were arrested during the raid, but federal officials claimed that Schaaf’s warning enabled over 800 undocumented immigrants to escape undetected.

Written By Candace Buford and Kelsey Thomas