California: Trump vs. the ‘sanctuary state’
The Trump administration has declared “war” on California, said Matt Ford in NewRepublic.com. Railing against “lawless open-border radicals,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week announced that the Justice Department had filed a lawsuit against the state to overturn three of its immigration laws. The first measure prevents local police from handing over undocumented immigrants to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. The second gives the state oversight responsibility for ICE-run detention facilities; the third prohibits employers from cooperating with ICE on working-place raids conducted without a warrant. These laws are totally justified, said Raul Reyes in CNN.com. If California’s 2.5 million undocumented immigrants “fear all encounters with law enforcement, they’ll stop reporting crimes and serving as witnesses.” Besides, California isn’t stopping ICE from arresting immigrants. It’s just declining to participate.
We “sympathize with our West Coast brethren” in their efforts to establish a “sanctuary state,” said the New York Daily News in an editorial. The law preventing the handover of undocumented immigrants to federal agents—except those convicted of serious crimes—is on “firm legal ground.” But the other two laws are “dubious.” Private employers must “comply with both state and federal law,” so forcing them to warn employees about potential ICE raids puts them in an “unwinnable” position. The detention center law, meanwhile, undermines the “well-established” legal principle that states “cannot exercise direct oversight over federal personnel and agencies.” Ironically, California may lose this legal battle because of a precedent set by the Obama administration, said David French in NationalReview.com. When the Justice Department sued Arizona in 2012 over state laws targeting illegal aliens, the Supreme Court ruled that states cannot undermine federal immigration policy. Now that the roles are reversed, both sides hold “very different views of federalism.”
This legal fight is mostly about political messaging, said Dara Lind in Vox.com. Suing “liberal-caricature California” allows Trump to push his “favorite theme—that immigrants are criminal and dangerous.” Meanwhile, the state’s Democrats were openly gleeful over Sessions’ announcement, which helps their goal of making all Republicans seem like anti-Hispanic “bad guys.” This fight, which will likely end up at the Supreme Court, is one “both sides are eager to have.”