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Resistance State: California in the Age of Trump

Between Sacramento and Washington D.C. sits the rest of the country, and a chasm. On immigration and taxes, guns and healthcare, cannabis and climate change, California is the federal government’s equal and opposite reaction. One year into President Trump’s first term, the push and pull continues—playing out under the Capitol dome, in the courts and on Twitter.

Ready for another year? Follow along here.

Resistance State: California in the Age of Trump

A day after the Trump administration sued California over its new “sanctuary” laws, state officials pushed back hard, with Gov. Jerry Brown calling the move tantamount to “war.”

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the lawsuit, which he filed late Tuesday, at a police event near the Capitol today. He said California leaders were scoring political points on the backs of law enforcement with immigration policies that hinder federal agents’ ability to enforce U.S. law.

“We’re simply asking the state and other sanctuary jurisdictions to stop actively obstructing federal law enforcement,” Sessions said as hundreds of protesters shouted outside. “Stop treating immigration agents differently from everybody else for the purpose of eviscerating border and immigration laws, and advancing an open-borders philosophy shared by only a few, the most radical extremists.”

The attorney general accused local and state elected officials, including Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and state Attorney General Xavier Becerra, of promoting an extreme agenda to frustrate federal agents. Becerra, a Brown appointee, is running for election this year, as is Schaaf.

The attorney general accused local and state elected officials, including Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and state Attorney General Xavier Becerra, of promoting an extreme agenda to frustrate federal agents. Becerra, a Brown appointee, is running for election this year, as is Schaaf.

At a joint press conference with Becerra after Sessions’ announcement, Brown said he does not believe in “open borders.” The laws being challenged in the suit were carefully crafted, he said, to balance the state’s right to manage public safety with federal authority to oversee immigration. He termed Sessions’ appearance a stunt.

“This is completely unprecedented, for the chief of law enforcement in the United States to come out here and engage in a political stunt, make wild accusations, many of which are based on outright lies,” Brown said—unusually strong language for a governor who has largely been cautious in his criticism of the Trump administration. Read the full story:

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June 20, 2018 6:32 pm

The battle over California’s ‘sanctuary’ laws

Contributing Writer
Photo by Robbie Short/CALmatters

Supporters of California’s “sanctuary” policy gathered today outside the U.S. district courthouse in Sacramento, where a federal judge heard arguments over state laws that limit some types of cooperation with immigration authorities. The Trump administration, which filed its suit over the laws in March, is seeking an injunction to halt them. The hearing was held on the same day President Trump issued an executive order rescinding the federal practice of separating migrant families at the U.S. border.

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June 14, 2018 5:43 pm

Federal immigration agents try to overtrump California’s sanctuary law

Contributing Writer
A guard escorts an immigrant detainee at the Adelanto Detention Facility, the largest Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in California.

California’s sanctuary law—by limiting how much state and local law enforcement could cooperate with federal immigration agents—engaged in a we-won’t-hold-‘em policy that outraged the Trump administration. Now its federal border patrol agents reportedly have upped the ante.

Those agents have begun refusing to turn over suspects wanted by California law enforcement agencies for crimes such as sexual assault and drug possession, instead either charging them with immigration-related federal crimes or simply deporting them, according to a story in the Los Angeles Times.

This latest escalation of the power struggle between the Trump administration and California worries some immigration advocates and legal experts.

“It does seem to be a tit for tat,” said Jean Reisz of the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law. “And that doesn’t serve anyone well.”

Jon Rodney of the California Immigrant Policy Center, a nonprofit advocacy group in Sacramento, had stronger words: “This move underscores the deeply hypocritical, manipulative and deceptive nature of the federal government’s deportation force.”

At the root of Reisz’ concern is not just the escalation of rhetoric, or any political maneuvering that might be going on. The law is written for its victims, she said, who may not feel they got justice if the accused is sent back home.

“It’s illegal to leave the country if there’s a pending criminal case against you,” Reisz said. Reportedly, convicted felons who were accused of serious crimes such as sex offenses were deported rather than turned over to California police.

The details about these particular deportations isn’t clear—the Times affected Southern California sheriff’s departments declined to comment, saying federal authorities hadn’t provided them enough information to identify which suspects they had refused to transfer.

Some police officers and sheriffs from conservative cities and counties have lambasted California’s sanctuary policy and called for it to be overturned.

Both the state’s sanctuary law and the apparent federal retaliation against it mark a departure from the cooperation that once existed between California police and sheriffs and immigration agents.

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We have another lawsuit.

With a new filing this morning, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra brought the state’s total number of legal challenges against the Trump administration to 33. That’s two lawsuits per month since the president assumed office.

The question at issue this time: did the Environmental Protection Agency violate federal procedures when it reversed an Obama-era rule requiring agricultural companies to train their workers about the hazards of pesticides? This is the eighth case brought against the agency or its administrator, Scott Pruitt.

Track all of California’s lawsuits against the Trump administration here.

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