Judge rejects Trump administration's request to block California sanctuary laws

Judge rejects Trump administration's request to block California sanctuary laws
© Getty

A federal judge on Thursday rejected the Trump administration's request to block California's sanctuary law, delivering a blow to the Justice Department's efforts to crack down on so-called sanctuary states and cities.

But the judge issued a warning that courts were “no place for politics,” stating this opinion would "neither define nor solve” immigration in the U.S.


In a court order, U.S. District Judge John Mendez denied the administration's request for a preliminary injunction on three state laws passed by California legislators last year.

In a rebuke to California, however, Mendez granted the Justice Department's request to block California officials from enforcing a law that sought to limit private employers' cooperation with federal immigration enforcement.

The judge warned that the rulings would not serve as a definitive fix to the country's debate over immigration and urged lawmakers to work in a bipartisan fashion to address the issues.

"There is no place for politics in our judicial system and this one opinion will neither define nor solve the complicated immigration issues currently facing our Nation," Mendez wrote. 

California's sanctuary law imposes limits on cooperation between state and local law enforcement officials and federal immigration enforcement. The Trump administration argued that the laws effectively hindered federal efforts to enforce immigration policies.

Mendez ultimately rejected that argument.

"The laws make enforcement more burdensome than it would be if state and local law enforcement provided immigration officers with their assistance," he wrote. "But refusing to help is not the same as impeding."

The Trump administration also sought to block Assembly Bill 103, which allows the California attorney general to review and report on immigrant detention facilities. Mendez denied that request, as well.

The laws were passed last year in response to the Trump administration's much-touted crackdown on illegal immigration. Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump attack on Sessions may point to his departure Hillicon Valley: Trump's exclusive interview with Hill.TV | Trump, intel officials clash over Russia docs | EU investigating Amazon | Military gets new cyber authority | Flynn sentencing sparks new questions about Mueller probe Sessions in Chicago: If you want more shootings, listen to ACLU, Antifa, Black Lives Matter MORE announced during a trip to California in March that the administration would sue the state over its immigration laws.

California Attorney General Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraOvernight Energy: Watchdog to investigate EPA over Hurricane Harvey | Panel asks GAO to expand probe into sexual harassment in science | States sue over methane rules rollback Some states back plaintiff suing DHS over Haitians' protected status California, New Mexico sue over Trump methane pollution rollback MORE's (D) office celebrated the injunction ruling on Wednesday, saying that it upheld the right of the states to determine how best to protect their residents.

"The right of states to determine how to provide public safety and general welfare to their people continues to stand strong," a spokesperson for Becerra said. 

Updated at 2:45 p.m.