State Watch

Judge dismisses most of Trump administration lawsuit over California immigration laws


A federal judge on Monday dismissed most of the Trump administration’s lawsuit seeking to knock down a series of California immigration laws, delivering a major blow to the Justice Department’s efforts to crack down on so-called sanctuary states.

U.S. District Judge John Mendez tossed out the part of the lawsuit seeking to invalidate Senate Bill 54, which limits cooperation between local and state law enforcement and federal immigration enforcement. He also dismissed an effort to block another law — Assembly Bill 103 — which allows the California attorney general to review and report on immigrant detention facilities.

Mendez also tossed out part of the lawsuit against Assembly Bill 405, which sought to limit private employers’ cooperation with federal immigration enforcement.

{mosads}Mendez’s dismissals mean that California will be able to continue limiting its cooperation with federal immigration enforcement.

In dismissing the Justice Department’s case against the two laws, Mendez rejected the Trump administration’s argument that only the federal government has the final say on immigration enforcement and regulation under the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause.

“[T]he Court does not find any indication in the cited federal statutes that Congress intended for States to have no oversight over detention facilities operating within their borders,” Mendez wrote.

The dismissals came days after Mendez rejected the Trump administration’s request for a preliminary injunction to block the laws while the case played out in court. 

The Justice Department first brought the lawsuit against California in March, arguing that the sanctuary laws effectively hindered federal efforts to enforce immigration policies.

But Mendez rejected that argument, writing in his rejection of the Trump administration’s injunction request last week that “refusing to help is not the same as impeding.”

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, whose office is charged with defending the state against the lawsuit, celebrated the dismissals on Monday, saying that it upheld California’s right to determine how best to protect its residents’ privacy and security. 

“Today’s decision is a victory for our State’s ability to safeguard the privacy, safety, and constitutional rights of all of our people,” he said in a statement. “Though the Trump Administration may continue to attack a state like California and its ability to make its own laws, we will continue to protect our constitutional authority to protect our residents and the rule of law.”

A spokesperson for the Justice Department did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.

–Updated at 9:05 p.m.

Tags California Immigration Justice Department sanctuary laws Xavier Becerra

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