State Watch

Jerry Brown: Feds are ‘going to war’ against California 

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California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) blasted back at Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday after the Trump administration filed a lawsuit against his state’s immigration policies.

In a press conference at the state Capitol in Sacramento, just blocks from where Sessions announced the lawsuit at a meeting of the California Peace Officers’ Association, Brown said the attorney general was catering to a conservative base — and to President Trump.

“This is really unprecedented for the chief law enforcement officer of the United States to come out to California and act more like Fox News than a law enforcement officer. This is a political stunt,” Brown said. “We know the Trump administration is full of liars. They’ve pled guilty already to the special counsel.” 

“This is basically going to war against the state of California, the engine of the American economy. It’s not wise, it’s not right, and it will not stand,” Brown said. 

The lawsuit, filed late Tuesday, targets three California laws aimed at protecting undocumented immigrants. 

One law requires employers to give notice to employees if immigration authorities are going to conduct enforcement operations on the job site. Another allows California’s Department of Justice to inspect federal detention facilities where undocumented immigrants are held.  

A third prevents state and local law enforcement officers from cooperating with federal immigration authorities to transfer or facilitate detentions of undocumented immigrants in state custody. Opponents of the third measure, S.B. 54, say it makes California a sanctuary jurisdiction for undocumented immigrants.

In court documents filed in the Eastern District of California, the Department of Justice says those three laws “have the purpose and effect of making it more difficult for federal immigration officers to carry out their responsibilities in California.”  

“California is using every power it has, and some it doesn’t, to frustrate federal law enforcement,” Sessions told the gathering of officers in Sacramento. “So you can be sure I’m going to use every power I have to stop them.”

Sessions suggested California was trying to nullify federal law.

“There is no nullification. There is no secession. Federal law is the supreme law of the land. I would invite any doubters to go to Gettysburg, to the tombstones of John C. Calhoun and Abraham Lincoln. This matter has been settled,” Sessions said.

Brown said Sessions’s speech was “unbecoming” of the nation’s chief law enforcement officer. He speculated that Sessions is trying to return to Trump’s good graces after a rocky first year in which Trump and Sessions developed a serious rift in their once-close relationship. 

“I assume, and this is pure speculation, that Jeff thinks that Donald will be happy with him,” Brown said. “Let’s face it, the Trump White House is under siege. [Special counsel Robert] Mueller is closing in. There are more indictments to come.”

Appearing with Brown, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) said his office would mount a spirited defense of the three state laws. Becerra said the lawsuit would fail.

“The lawsuit challenges some of our state laws, which are again fully constitutional and provide for the safety and welfare of all of our people,” Becerra said. “The 10th Amendment provides California with the right to decline to participate in civil immigration enforcement.” 

Becerra said the Trump administration had opened itself to the discovery process, which would allow California lawyers to dig into the internal debate over the lawsuit, which could drag on for years. 

“This lawsuit is going to last a lot longer than the Trump administration,” Brown predicted. 

Brett Samuels contributed to this report. 

Tags Donald Trump Jeff Sessions Xavier Becerra
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