House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi issued a statement today attacking the Trump administration for brining suit against the state of California for enacting laws the interfere with federal enforcement of the immigration laws, which under the Constitution are the responsibility of the federal government.
In her statement, referring to the illegal aliens who would be deported if the Trump administration succeeded in enforcing the immigration law, Pelosi said they “make America more American.”
“The people of California will not be bowed by the Trump Administration’s brazen aggression and intimidation tactics,” she said. “Californians will continue to proudly keep open doors to the immigrants who make America more American. We will fight this sham lawsuit and will fight all cowardly attacks on our immigrant communities.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the federal government’s lawsuit against California in a speech today to the California Peace Officers’ Association.
“[T]he Justice Department has filed a legal action against the State of California, Governor of California Jerry Brown, and Attorney General of California Xavier Becerra, seeking both declaratory and injunctive relief based upon the enactment and implementation of certain provisions of three California laws—Assembly Bill 450 (AB 450); Senate Bill 54 (SB 54); and Assembly Bill 103 (AB 103)—which intentionally obstruct and discriminate against the enforcement of federal immigration law,” the Justice Department said in a statement.
“The complaint contends that the laws in question are preempted by federal law and impermissibly target the Federal Government, and therefore violate the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution,” the DOJ statement said.
The DOJ statement explained the three California laws in question.
“AB 450 prohibits private employers from voluntarily cooperating with federal immigration officials—including officials conducting worksite enforcement efforts and other enforcement operations,” it said. “It also requires that private employers notify employees in advance of a potential worksite, enforcement inspection—despite clear federal law that has been on the books for approximately three decades that has no such requirements.”
“SB 54 restricts state and local law enforcement officials from providing information to federal immigration authorities about the release date of removable criminal aliens who are in their custody,” DOJ said.
“These criminal aliens are subject to removal from the United States under federal immigration law, and SB 54 interferes with federal immigration authorities’ ability to carry out their responsibilities under federal law,” it said.
“SB 54 also violates 8 USC 1373, a law enacted by Congress, which promotes information sharing related to immigration enforcement,” said DOJ. “The state law also prohibits the actual transfer of criminal aliens to federal custody, which creates a dangerous operating environment for ICE agents executing arrests in non-custodial settings.”
“AB 103 imposes a state-run inspection and review scheme of the federal detention of aliens held in facilities pursuant to federal contracts,” said DOJ. “This includes review of immigration processes and the circumstances in which aliens were apprehended, and also requires access to privileged federal records that are under ICE’s control. With this law, California is trying to regulate federal immigration detention, which it cannot do under the Constitution.”
Pelosi defended what California has done to thwart federal enforcement of federal immigration laws, saying that what the Trump Administration is trying to do contradicts the system of government created by the Founding Fathers.
“The Trump Administration’s attacks on California are unacceptable in the federal system of government our Founders created,” she said. “We have a system of checks and balances – not a system in which the executive branch can unilaterally bend states to its will. The federal government cannot force states and localities to participate in the cruel roundup of immigrant families, which spreads fear and thwarts cooperation with local law enforcement.”
The Department of Justice explained what it understands to be the constitutional basis for federal—as opposed to state—authority over immigration law in its suit against California:
“The Constitution affords Congress the power to ‘establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization,’ U.S. Const., art. I § 8, cl. 4, and to “regulate Commerce with foreign Nations,” U.S. Const., art. I § 8, cl. 3, and affords the President of the United States the authority to ‘take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.’ U.S. Const., art. II § 3.
“The Supremacy Clause of the Constitution mandates that ‘[t]his Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof . . . shall be the supreme Law of the Land . . . any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.’ U.S. Const., art. VI, cl. 2. Thus, a state enactment is invalid if it ‘stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress,’ Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U.S. 52, 67 (1941), or if it ‘discriminate[s] against the United States or those with whom it deals,’ South Carolina v. Baker, 485 U.S. 505, 523 (1988).
“Based on its enumerated powers and its constitutional power as a sovereign to control and conduct relations with foreign nations, the United States has broad authority to establish immigration laws, the execution of which the States cannot obstruct or discriminate against.”