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Trump v. California

In this corner: Immigration

For basic background, start with The weigh-in: Immigration

issue
Border Enforcement
Databases
Deportation
Sanctuary
status
All talk, no action—yet
It's on!
Punch
Counter-punch
On the ropes
Draw!
California wins!
Trump wins!
It's on!

In a meeting about school safety and guns, President Donald Trump pivoted to some favorite targets: California and immigration. He said he might remove immigration and border officers from the Golden State and predicted that the result would be “a crime mess like you’ve never seen,” CNN and other news outlets reported today.

He mentioned gangs as a problem that the federal government was trying to address, with “no help from the state of California,” where one foreign gang establishes “franchises.”

“They’re doing a lousy management job, they have the highest taxes in the nation and they don’t know what’s happening out there,” Trump said.

Trump made his remarks in a session with state and local officials who had dealt with shootings at schools. He did not explain how he believed gangs and school shootings were related.

He went on to say, “the sanctuary city situation, the protection of these horrible criminals …. If we ever pulled our ICE out and said, ‘Hey, let California alone and let them figure it out themselves,’ in two months they’d be begging for us to come back.”

“I’m thinking about doing it,” he said, without offering details about a specific plan.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who has filed more than two dozen lawsuits against the Trump administration on a range of issues, said the state works “in concert with federal laws” and defended its pursuit of those who commit crimes.

“We’re going after drug dealers, sex traffickers. We don’t stop doing that. My division of law enforcement is doing that right now,” Becerra said in a statement. “What we won’t do is change from being focused in public safety – we’re in the business of public safety, not deportation.” 

As recently as January, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Thomas Homan, said California should prepare for an onslaught of ICE actions, such as raids and business audits. That statement came days after California’s “sanctuary state” law went into effect, limiting state and local law enforcers’ cooperation with federal authorities in certain circumstances.
It's on!

A federal judge in California has blocked deportation of participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, allowing those whose legal status has expired to apply for renewal until a court challenge of the Trump administration’s cancellation of the program is resolved.

The injunction essentially pauses a Trump plan to end DACA, which provides 2-year work permits and protection from removal for some young undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, along with other attorneys general and the University of California, asked for the injunction in November while the underlying court case moves forward.

“Dreamers’ lives were thrown into chaos when the Trump administration tried to terminate the DACA program without obeying the law,” Becerra said. The “ruling is a huge step in the right direction.”

U.S. District Judge William Alsup found that harm would be done if termination of the program began and that the public interest is better served by waiting until the case is decided. Alsup said Washington’s decision was “arbitrary and capricious” and could result in a successful challenge. He wrote: “Plaintiffs have clearly demonstrated that they are likely to suffer serious irreparable harm absent an injunction.”

The White House pushed back, calling the injunction “outrageous.”

On Sept. 5, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that DACA would be terminated in March. The judge’s ruling allows anyone who had DACA status as of that date to submit a renewal application.

Advocates for immigrants are now scrambling to find out when they can begin to re-apply and said it would be up to the Department of Homeland Security.

There are about 690,000 DACA recipients, about 200,000 of them in California.

Becerra said the ruling could give Congress more leverage to try to get DACA renewed without burdening a proposal with compromises that Trump wants, such as a border wall or more border security.

It's on!

In the latest twist in the fight between California and the Trump administration, the head of federal immigration enforcement said he will send more officers to California if the state won’t enforce immigration laws now that its new “sanctuary” policy has taken effect.

Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Thomas Homan told Fox News  yesterday that “California better hold on tight. They are about to see a lot more special agents, a lot more deportation officers.” He also said that political leaders who implement sanctuary laws should be charged with crimes.

California’s new law took effect January 1, barring local and state law enforcement agencies from questioning people about their immigration status or holding them because of it. They are also unable to share information about undocumented immigrants with federal agencies unless they meet specific criteria such as having been convicted of certain serious crimes.

“If the politicians in California don’t want to protect their communities, then ICE will,” Homan said.

He also said he intends to go after cities with their own sanctuary policies.

“What they’ve done is force my officers to arrest dangerous criminals on their turf, in their homes, in their place of business rather than arresting them in the safety of a county jail,” Homan went on to say.

His comments were in response to Gov. Brown, who said that the law will provide some safety for undocumented immigrants who are living quietly and working hard in the state.

State Attorney General Xavier Becerra tweeted in response: “New year, old rhetoric from Washington. Here in California, we’ll stay the course and enforce our laws that protect our communities and make CA’s economy #1 in the nation.”

In Sacramento, Mayor Darrell Steinberg said his city would “redouble” its efforts to protect immigrants, adding that federal officials “know where to find me.”

Homan said he has asked the Department of Justice to analyze the federal government’s options and suggested withholding funding and filing charges against some political leaders for violating federal law.

The city of San Francisco and Becerra, on behalf of the state, filed suit in August against the Trump administration for threatening to withhold funds. They allege such treatment is unconstitutional.

Punch

The Trump Administration continues to go after jurisdictions it says are running afoul of regulations to receive funding because of their sanctuary policies.

First it was  Stockton and San Bernardino, but this week the Department of Justice sent more than two dozen letters to cities counties and states across the country it believes are out of compliance for receiving federal dollars because of their status as sanctuaries,a term used to describe areas that prohibit law enforcers from reporting the immigration status of certain people to immigration authorities. Eleven are in California including the cities of Berkeley, Los Angeles and Santa Ana and the counties of Contra Costa, Monterey and San Francisco.

After the first letters were sent to California cities in the spring, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration to protect federal funding for self-proclaimed “sanctuary” cities and counties.

“It’s a low blow to our men and women who wear that badge for the federal government to threaten their crime-fighting resources in order to force them to do the work of the federal government when it comes to immigration enforcement,” Becerra said at the time.

President Trump's immigration policy drew protesters in San Francisco, a sanctuary city that has for decades offered immigrants some protections from federal immigration officials. Photo by Pax Ahimsa Gethen (via Wikimedia Commons)

President Trump’s immigration policy drew protesters in San Francisco, a sanctuary city that has for decades offered immigrants some protections from federal immigration officials. Photo by Pax Ahimsa Gethen via Wikimedia Commons

The localities are being asked to prove they are in compliance or risk losing federal law enforcement grant funding. At issue is whether these jurisdictions are restricting their employees from sharing a person’s immigration status with federal immigration authorities under Section 1373 of the law. The Justice Dept. argues that if employees are barred from asking about immigration status or required not to share the information with federal agents, the local agency would be violating a federal law.

“I urge all jurisdictions found to be potentially out of compliance in this preliminary review to reconsider their policies that undermine the safety of their residents,” Attorney General Sessions said in a statement. “We urge jurisdictions to not only comply with Section 1373, but also to establish sensible and effective partnerships to properly process criminal aliens.”

The latest round of cities have until Dec. 8 to respond.

Cities and states have filed various lawsuits against the federal government over the letters. On Wednesday a judge in Philadelphia blocked the Department of Justice from claiming it could cut off funds.

This is the latest turn in the administration’s effort to go after sanctuary cities or jurisdictions. In January, shortly after taking office, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to pull federal funds from these cities and counties. It was struck down by a California judge a few month later.

The funds at stake are from the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program, which provides funding for personnel, training and equipment.

Counter-punch

When Gov. Brown signed the closely watched ‘sanctuary state’ bill today, he set California on course to further limit how much cooperation state and local law enforcers can give to federal immigration agencies.

The new law is part of California’s pushback against the Trump administration’s vow to deport more people who are in the country illegally, particularly those who have been convicted of a crime. About 2.3 million undocumented immigrants live in California, and state leaders including the governor have lauded their contribution to the state’s economy and cited a new need to protect them.

“These are uncertain times for undocumented Californians and their families, and this bill strikes a balance that will protect public safety, while bringing a measure of comfort to those families who are now living in fear every day,” Brown wrote in a signing statement.

The new sanctuary provisions will go into effect Jan. 1.

Brown’s approval comes after months of wrangling to find a compromise among the author, Los Angeles Democrat and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, law enforcement agencies against the bill, and the governor’s office. That breakthrough came several weeks ago when de León accepted amendments that vastly expanded from 60 to 800 the list of types criminal convictions an immigrants might have that would permit police to work with immigration officers on the case.

Senate Leader de León Press Conference on the California Values Act

SACRAMENTO – Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) will hold a press conference about SB 54, the California Values Act, which currently awaits Governor Brown’s signature.

Some law enforcers remained wary even with the changes.

“We are discouraged that this problematic bill has been signed into law,” said Bill Brown, president of the California State Sheriff’s Association. “We will continue to work to address the bill’s liabilities, which include restricting our communications with federal law enforcement about the release of wanted, undocumented criminals from our jails, including repeat drunk drivers, persons who assault peace officers, serial thieves, animal abusers, known gang members, and other serious offenders.”

Brown said the new law is balanced and allows local law enforcement to go after criminals without putting law-abiding undocumented families at risk.

“California’s local law enforcement cannot be commandeered and used by the Trump Administration to tear families apart, undermine our safety, and wreak havoc on our economy,” said de León after the bill was signed.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Trump, have derided the sanctuary effort in California, warning that it would hamper public safety in the state. Sessions has threatened to withhold federal funds from sanctuary jurisdictions, although a federal judge has, for now at least, blocked such retaliation. Last week the Department of Homeland Security conducted immigration raids specifically in “sanctuary” regions, including Los Angeles—saying that without the cooperation of local police, federal agents would pursue criminal immigrants more directly.

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