The hits just keep coming for the Trump administration. At this point, it’s more unusual for a federal judge to uphold one of their attempts at immigration policy. This past week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of California in a case the Trump team brought over their new “sanctuary” laws blocking local law enforcement from cooperation with federal immigration authorities. The court threw out the Trump administration’s argument that the laws would inappropriately impede federal efforts, asserting that the state had the right to act as they have.
As they put it, referring specifically to SB 54, which bars local authorities from looping the feds in on immigrant detentions:
‘SB 54 may well frustrate the federal government’s immigration enforcement efforts. However, whatever the wisdom of the underlying policy adopted by California, that frustration is permissible, because California has the right, pursuant to the anticommandeering rule, to refrain from assisting in federal efforts.’
The Trump team has repeatedly challenged so-called sanctuary cities and jurisdictions, attempting to keep federal funds from at least some of them although that effort was repeatedly overturned in court.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has itself actually previously ruled against that effort, asserting in late 2018:
‘Absent congressional authorization, the administration may not redistribute or withhold properly appropriated funds in order to effectuate its own policy goals.’
The California case previously saw a ruling in the state’s favor, and considering precedent, there are likely to be further challenges from the Trump team. Although it’s not a given they’d actually hear the case, the current U.S. Supreme Court leans conservative thanks to two appointments from Trump, and they’ve already provided tangible evidence of their bent via allowing Trump’s Muslim-targeting travel ban to go into effect.
Besides the main law prohibiting local authorities from communicating immigrant criminal detention statuses to federal authorities, California also mandated that employers notify staff of incoming inspections from federal immigration authorities and authorized the state attorney general to inspect immigrant detention facilities for those held over non-criminal offenses — in other words, being found to be in the U.S. without proper documentation. Crossing the border outside designated ports of entry is a misdemeanor under federal law, but ending up without proper documentation for other reasons is a civil offense — although that hasn’t stopped the president from railing against immigrants anyway.
He reportedly suggested behind the scenes in recent months that any and all asylum seeking families be detained and separated as a punitive measure. He has also suggested that undocumented immigrants be shipped to sanctuary jurisdictions.
In the case of these “sanctuary” jurisdictions, it’s important to note that it’s not as though normal law enforcement functions are dialed back, despite Republican claims that they foster criminals roaming the streets. Authorities in these areas simply do not wish to submit these normally handled criminal cases for federal review, which would add the threat of deportation to their own hopefully unbiased proceedings.
California has confronted the Trump administration over their immigration policies before, through such means as the withdrawal of National Guard support for the White House’s efforts to harass asylum seekers at the border. The state’s new Governor Gavin Newsom asserted:
‘The border ’emergency’ is a manufactured crisis, and California will not be part of this political theater.’
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