SUIT OVER SANCTUARY
FILE -- In this Tuesday Feb. 27, 2018 file photo is Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaking at the National Association of Attorneys General Winter Meeting in Washington. Sessions will speak before the California Peace Officers Association, Wednesday, March 7, to make what's being billed as a major announcement about sanctuary policy. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, file)
FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018 file photo, Oakland Mayor, Libby Schaaf, center, discusses California's growing homeless crisis at a news conference in Sacramento, Calif. Schaaf has been at odds with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and federal immigration officials after warning last month about potential raids in Oakland. Sessions will be speaking before the California Peace Officers Association, Wednesday, March 7, to make what's being billed as a major announcement about sanctuary policy.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli,file)
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is taking the fight over the nation's immigration policy directly to California by suing to block state laws that extend protections to people living in the U.S. illegally.
He was expected to speak to law enforcement officials in the state's capital Wednesday, just hours after the U.S. Justice Department filed suit — the most aggressive move yet in the Trump administration's push to force so-called sanctuary cities and states to cooperate with immigration authorities.
The U.S. Justice Department is challenging three California laws that, among other things, bar police from asking people about their citizenship status or participating in federal immigration enforcement activities. The suit filed in federal court in Sacramento says the laws are unconstitutional and have kept federal agents from doing their jobs.
"The Department of Justice and the Trump administration are going to fight these unjust, unfair and unconstitutional policies that have been imposed on you," Sessions said in prepared remarks. "I believe that we are going to win."
California officials remained defiant, with Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown mimicking President Trump on Twitter as he criticized Sessions for coming to Sacramento "to further divide and polarize America. Jeff, these political stunts may be the norm in Washington, but they don't work here. SAD!!!"
Brown is named in the lawsuit along with Democratic Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who said the state is on firm legal footing.
"Our track record so far when it comes to any dispute with the federal government has been pretty good," Becerra said.
The lawsuit is the latest salvo in an escalating feud between the Trump administration and California, which has resisted the president on issues from taxes to marijuana policy and defiantly refuses to help federal agents detain and deport immigrants. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has said it will increase its presence in California, and Sessions wants to cut off funding to jurisdictions that won't cooperate.
"I say: Bring it on," said California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles Democrat who wrote the so-called sanctuary state bill. Democratic Assembly Speaker Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon was among those suggesting that Sessions shouldn't come at all.
The lawsuit was filed as the Justice Department also reviews Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf's decision to warn of an immigration sweep in advance, which ICE said allowed hundreds of immigrants to elude detention. Schaaf said Tuesday the city would "continue to inform all residents about their constitutional rights."Read More...