Following a recent lawsuit against California from the Justice Department, President Donald Trump visited San Diego’s Marine Corps Air Station Miramar on Tuesday to discuss immigration. The president doubled down on his administration’s tough immigration policies and had harsh words against states such as California that have passed legislation to protect undocumented immigrants.
A tough legal battle
One of the president’s focal points in his speech was California’s status as a “sanctuary” state for undocumented immigrants. As a so-called sanctuary state, California has a policy of using minimal cooperation with U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) in its attempts to target undocumented workers. Trump harshly criticized these policies as “illegal and unconstitutional.” This is hardly the first time that the Trump administration has tussled with California legislators.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently filed a lawsuit against the State of California for its sanctuary laws. Attorney General Sessions contends that the state has failed to uphold its responsibility to federal law by refusing to cooperate with ICE’s many immigration raids. California-based legal experts predict that the lawsuit may well end up in the U.S. Supreme Court. The outcome of the court battle will likely set a major precedent for sanctuary policies in the future.
Sanctuary policies under attack
The legal battle has implications that run far beyond immigration. The lawsuit also encompasses federal dominance versus states’ rights. The court’s decision will ultimately address whether a state is allowed to circumvent federal immigration enforcement. One policy in particular may raise trouble for California. The state restricts its private employers’ ability to cooperate with federal immigration officials like ICE agents. Under the law, a private employer that allows federal immigration agents to examine non-public portions of the facility is subject to state fines.
However, the overarching policy that allows California to restrict its local law enforcement officials from providing private information about immigrants is likely safe. The law, known as the country’s first “sanctuary law,” prohibits state and local officials from voluntarily giving information about immigrants who are subject to deportation to federal agents. For now, the sanctuary laws are safe.