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Lawsuits & Litigation

California and Trump Administration Clash Over Sanctuary Laws Suit

— March 12, 2018

The State of California plans to demand that a Trump administration challenge to its sanctuary laws be transferred from a federal court in Sacramento to another venue in San Francisco.

According to, the possibility of a venue change will be determined by Sacramento-based Judge John Mendez, who’s now adjudicating the unusual suit brought forward by the Department of Justice.

In San Francisco, district court judges are already overseeing litigation geared toward the availability of federal grants in relation to so-called ‘sanctuary city’ laws. The Trump administration’s latest effort targets three local laws which protect illegal immigrants from arrest and deportation.

California State Attorney General Xavier Becerra recently accused the Trump administration of ‘declaring war’ on California by ways of its lawsuits. Image via Office of Attorney General Xavier Becerra/Wikimedia Commons. Listed as public domain.

State Attorney General Xavier Becerra explained the request as a matter of convenience – ensuring that two similar cases are heard and judged together.

“Plaintiff’s lawsuit seeks to define the parameters of the federal government’s immigration powers as they relate to the State’s constitutional power to enact and enforce laws concerning public safety. This precise issue is currently the subject of the State of California’s litigation against the federal government in the Northern District of California,” wrote Becerra and other attorneys for the state. “Accordingly, Defendants intend to file a motion to transfer this matter to the Northern District next week, so that it can be heard with the related case there.”

Before filing their suit against California, the Justice Department was allegedly scrutinized for its decision to launch its litigation in Sacramento rather than San Francisco or Los Angeles. Asked whether the agency was trying to avoid liberal judiciaries in the two districts, officials said they simply picked Sacramento because it’s the state capital.

Not surprisingly, Becerra and his colleagues’ motion to transfer the case toward the Bay was blasted by the Trump administration, with the DoJ condemning it as borderline nonsensical.

“It is remarkable that the State of California would seek to delay this matter primarily so that it can avoid litigating in its State capital. There is no basis to seriously entertain this request that the case be transferred,” wrote agency attorneys. “California’s wish to defend these challenges in another federal judicial district in San Francisco, where the State capital is not located and where the official Defendants do not reside, makes no sense.”

Becerra’s request, writes, was derided by the Justice Department as ‘meritless,’ despite no paperwork having yet been submitted. They claim the supposedly relevant suit in San Francisco, pertaining to federal grants, is a separate matter from last week’s suit, which deals with the constitutionality of California’s immigrant-specific laws.

“That case is about the Attorney General’s authority to issue law enforcement grants and the limits on that authority,” wrote federal lawyers. “This case is about whether three California laws violate the Supremacy Clause. Any overlap between the cases is minimal and limited to just certain arguments concerning one of the three laws challenged here.”


California wants U.S. suit over ‘sanctuary’ policies moved to San Francisco

Trump administration: Moving ‘sanctuary’ lawsuit to San Francisco ‘makes no sense’

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