Trump v. California

In this corner: Immigration

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

Border Enforcement
All talk, no action—yet
It's on!
On the ropes
California wins!
Trump wins!
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.

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“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.

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“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.


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.

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“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.


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.

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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.


Federal authorities have arrested nearly 500 people in California and across the country this week in a sweep of “sanctuary cities” that have opted to break ties with federal immigration enforcers.

In the Golden State, Los Angeles saw the most arrests with 167 people picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The agency said it focused on individuals with criminal records, and that 317 of those taken into custody had prior criminal convictions.

Sanctuary cities are those that have put rules in place restricting local law enforcement from cooperating with the federal agency. The California Legislature also this month passed a statewide sanctuary measure, which is awaiting a final decision by Gov. Jerry Brown.

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The agency has conducted several raids like this in recent years, but the aim of what the agency dubbed “Operation Safe City” appeared to be the targeting of specific areas seen to defy President Trump’s push for a crackdown on illegal immigration.

“Sanctuary jurisdictions that do not honor detainers or allow us access to jails and prisons are shielding criminal aliens from immigration enforcement and creating a magnet for illegal immigration,” ICE Acting Director Tom Homan said in a statement. “As a result, ICE is forced to dedicate more resources to conduct at-large arrests in these communities.”

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made it a point to hold accountable cities he says are blocking immigration enforcement efforts, also insisting the federal government will attempt to disqualify such jurisdictions from receiving certain federal funds. Several cities have sued, contending that withholding federal funds from sanctuary cities would be unconstitutional, and some federal judges have agreed.

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