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US lawsuit over California immigration laws is warning shot

AP  |  Sacramento (US) 

The Trump administration's lawsuit challenging California's efforts to protect immigrants who are in the country illegally served as the latest warning shot at communities nationwide with so-called sanctuary policies.

As he excoriated officials for their policies and actions, US Jeff Sessions warned against "rewarding" people who enter the country illegally.

"It's a rejection of law and it creates an open borders system," he told officials in yesterday, just a few blocks from the state Capitol.

"Open borders is a radical, irrational idea that cannot be accepted." Democratic House called Trump's lawsuit against an attempt to "bully states," and promised to "make sure is a welcoming place for everyone, even in the face of these threats."

became America's first sanctuary state in 1987 with a from detaining people who are in the illegally but have not broken other laws, and last year doubled down on the policy with a bill to strengthen it.

In yesterday, Gov and state Xavier Becerra, both Democrats, called Sessions' visit and the lawsuit a political stunt and denied that they want to give immigrants free rein to enter the country illegally.

They said California is on firm legal ground with laws that limit police and employers' cooperation with federal immigration agents and require state inspections of federal detention facilities.

What Brown called "an act of war" comes as Trump is set to visit California next week for the first time since his election to see models of his proposed wall along the Mexican border.

Meanwhile, administration officials planned to meet today with four state lawmakers who oppose so-called sanctuary policies. It was not immediately clear if representatives from other states would also attend.

The lawmakers will discuss with the "how we can stop sanctuary cities, restore law and order, and prevent gangs like MS-13 from bringing violence and drugs across our borders," Republican Rep of Springs said in a statement.

Response to the Trump administration's lawsuit was divided along political lines, with much of the criticism coming from places that have already waged their own legal battles with the

"The is now openly attacking jurisdictions that are protecting their residents from unjust and unfair treatment by federal agents," said Jenny Durkan, a Democrat and former federal prosecutor, in a tweet.

said in a statement that the administration "cannot bully or blackmail the City of into changing our values, nor can our values be bought."

The has clashed repeatedly with Democratic mayors and state officials over its immigration policies, which have faced numerous setbacks in court.

A in November permanently blocked Trump's executive order to cut funding from sanctuary cities in lawsuits brought by two California counties -- and

A in in September in a lawsuit brought by the city of said the administration could not impose tough new immigration requirements on a key federal grant, including giving federal immigration officials access to jails.

California has also sued the administration over the grant conditions and filed a separate suit to protect some young immigrants from deportation.

A in in January blocked the Trump administration's decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, saying young immigrants were likely to suffer serious harm without court action.

The new federal lawsuit challenges specific California laws in a state that also is resisting the on issues from marijuana policy to climate change. But comments by Sessions and Brown took the standoff to a new level Wednesday, with Sessions calling out state and local officials for "obstruction of law enforcement" and Brown calling Sessions a liar who is pandering to Trump to save his job.

California passed sanctuary laws in response to Trump's promises to sharply ramp up the deportation of people in the US illegally. Sessions said several of them prevent US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers from making deportation arrests.

Former US Eric Holder, who led the Obama administration's successful lawsuit overturning Arizona's anti-illegal immigration bill, said California and other jurisdictions are permitted to limit their cooperation with federal immigration agents.

"The has made really absolutely clear that states cannot be forced to divert resources to help the enforce federal law," said Holder, who now works for the on contract.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, March 08 2018. 13:15 IST