Feds file sanctuary city lawsuit

The lawsuit against California is part of a new resolve against illegal immigration.

By Aimee Martinez, Multimedia Editor

Photo Illustration by Gene Wickham/The Valley Star

In a renewed attempt to crack down on illegal immigration, the Justice Department is suing California over its sanctuary city policies, citing them as unconstitutional.

A statement released Feb. 10 by the Department of Justice announced their suit against the state of California, Governor Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Xavier Becerra over Assembly Bill (AB) 32 – signed in to law October of last year. The bill prohibits the use of all private, for-profit prison and immigration detention facilities. According to the department, the bill would raise the cost of transporting immigration detainees as well as delay federal proceedings as a result of the out of state relocation of prisoners and detainees.

“The U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), for example, which is responsible for the housing and transportation of federal prisoners awaiting trial and sentencing, will need to relocate nearly 50 percent of its inmates in the Southern District of California and nearly 30 percent of its total California inmates to out-of-state facilities,” the Justice Department’s Office of Public Affairs stated.

Attorney General William Barr, at the National Sheriffs’ Association Winter Legislative and Technology Conference, announced that the Justice Department would be taking legal action against sanctuary states like California, New York and New Jersey. The administration is challenging the policies of these states as obstructions to federal immigration policy. According to the Trump Administration, these sanctuary policies infringe upon public safety as incarcerated illegal immigrants are being released. During the conference, Barr also stated that jurisdictions cooperative with federal immigration enforcement would be given priority in their discretionary grants programs.

“Unfortunately, in various jurisdictions, so-called ‘progressive’ politicians are jeopardizing public safety by putting the interests of criminal aliens before those of law-abiding citizens,” Barr said. “They have put in place policies and laws designed to thwart the ability of federal officers to take custody of these criminals and thereby help them escape into the communities.”

According to the Washington Post, this is the second time the Justice Department has tried to sue California over its immigration laws. The first suit, filed in 2018, was aimed at three laws: AB 45, 103, and Senate Bill 54. These laws prohibit private employers from giving immigration officials access to information for enforcement without a court order. The laws also created a state inspection system for immigration detention facilities and limited what state and local law enforcement can report about certain suspects, as well as which people can be transferred to federal custody.

According to the Washington Post, in 2018, a federal judge dismissed the government’s attempt to block the laws saying they were “permissible exercises of California’s sovereign power.” The decision was later approved in April by an appeals court. This time, the administration is hoping the Supreme Court will hear the lawsuit.

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