·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

Verdicts & Settlements

9th Circuit Lets California Keep Sanctuary Laws

— April 19, 2019

The Trump administration has been attacking California’s sanctuary-style policies since 2016.

On Thursday, a federal appeals court upheld California’s sanctuary laws, finding that the state’s contested measures don’t interfere with the enforcement of federal immigration policies.

According to USA Today, the ruling is in response to a Trump administration lawsuit. The White House had been attempting to block the implementation of several state laws which would have restricted information-sharing between California and federal immigration officials.

The unanimous decision, made by a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, reiterates judgments made by lower benches.

The Trump administration has been locked in litigation with California since 2016, when the White House began lashing out against the state’s immigrant-friendly cities. President Trump himself has been an outspoken critic of sanctuary-type policies, saying they encourage criminal activity and put the lives and livelihoods of Americans at risk.

California State Attorney General Xavier Becerra. Image via Office of Attorney General Xavier Becerra/Wikimedia Commons. Listed as public domain.

California’s state-wide sanctuary laws include prohibitions on sharing inmate data with federal authorities. Employers in the state are similarly barred from letting immigration agents on-site without a warrant.

State Attorney General Xavier Becerra praised the 9th Circuit’s finding in a statement.

“We continue to prove in California that the rule of law not only stands for something but that people cannot act outside of it,” Becerra said. “The Ninth Circuit ruled in our favor today, demonstrating that the rights of states and the 10th Amendment continue to thrive.”

However, and as USA Today notes, the court’s ruling wasn’t straightforward. The 9th Circuit did agree with the Trump administration, saying a law that allows the state attorney general to inspect immigration detention facilities places an unlawful and unreasonable financial burden upon the federal government.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency told National Public Radio that California’s policies serve to shield “criminal aliens” from deportation.

“To be clear, ICE neither expects nor wants, local law enforcement agencies to participate in immigration enforcement in the community, but as law enforcement officers, we do expect our partners to participate in protecting public safety,” an ICE spokesperson told NPR.

While ICE might have that expectation, the court says cooperation isn’t constitutionally mandated.

“The appeals court concluded that while Congress may have expected cooperation between state and federal authorities on immigration enforcement, Washington doesn’t have the constitutional power to require California’s assistance,” the panel wrote.

Splinter News¸ paraphrasing reportage from Bloomberg, notes that much of the ruling centered on the administration’s challenge to California’s SB 54, frequently referred to as the California Values Act.

“SB 54 may well frustrate the federal government’s immigration enforcement efforts,” the judges said. “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 with federal efforts.”


Another Federal Immigration Decision Comes Down Against the Trump Camp

Appeals court backs California laws to protect immigrants

US appeals court rejects Trump administration lawsuit, upholds most of California’s sanctuary laws

Join the conversation!