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Federal judge tosses most of DoJ's challenge to California's 'sanctuary' laws

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions attends a law enforcement roundtable on sanctuary cities at the White House on March 20. On Monday, a federal judge tossed most of the Justice Department's lawsuit against California for its laws limiting federal power in the state when enforcing immigration laws. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

By Ray Downs, UPI

A federal judge on Monday dismissed several parts of the Justice Department's lawsuit against California for its so-called "sanctuary" laws, which seek to limit federal power in enforcing immigration laws in the state.

[post_ads]Since the election of President Donald Trump, California lawmakers have passed several sanctuary laws, leading to a lawsuit filed by the DoJ in March to weaken or invalidate those laws.

But U.S. District Judge John Mendez dismissed the DoJ's argument against three of those laws, giving states a stronger stance to limit federal enforcement of immigration law.

"The 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 in his opinion.

On California's Senate Bill 54, which prohibits state and local law enforcement agencies from using public funds to "investigate, interrogate, detain, detect, or arrest persons for immigration enforcement purposes, the DoJ challenged part of the bill that restricts California law enforcement officials from sharing release date information of incarcerated immigrants with federal immigration officials.

The DoJ argued this provision violates the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which establishes that federal law takes precedence over state law. But Mendez disagreed, writing that "information regarding immigration or citizenship status does not include an immigrant's release date or home and work address."

The DoJ also challenged Assembly Bill 103, which restricts state and local agencies from entering into contracts with the federal government to detain immigrants and requires a review and reporting requirement of those facilities. But Mendez again ruled that the provision doesn't violate the Supremacy Clause.

California's Assembly Bill 450 includes a provision that requires employers to provide notice to their employees of immigration inspections. In its challenge to the law, the DoJ argued: "It would be unthinkable for a state to require that suspects be warned of upcoming criminal investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or that suspects be kept up to date on the results of investigative work done by the Bureau."

Mendez disagreed with the DoJ's characterization of the provision and said it does little more than extend the notice given to employers, who are the "primary targets" of the inspections.

However, the DoJ also challenged the part of the law that prohibits employers from allowing federal officers to enter a place of labor without a warrant and prohibits employers from re-verifying immigration status of current employees unless required by federal law.
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Mendez said the DoJ had a "plausible claim" against these parts of the law and let them stand.

But with most of the lawsuit thrown out, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra praised the ruling.

"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."

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U.S. - U.S. Daily News: Federal judge tosses most of DoJ's challenge to California's 'sanctuary' laws
Federal judge tosses most of DoJ's challenge to California's 'sanctuary' laws
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