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9th Circuit Upholds California's Sanctuary Law

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on April 22, 2019 3:04 PM

In another round in the war over sanctuary cities, a federal appeals court ruled California's sanctuary law does not impede enforcement of federal immigration laws.

The decision in United States of America v. State of California comes as Gov. Gavin Newsom and President Trump engage in a verbal battle over the president's threat to send illegal immigrants to sanctuary cities and states. The politicians are playing a game of headlines, but the appeals court is not.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in a unanimous opinion, said the state law limiting cooperation between California agencies and federal immigration authorities does not conflict with federal law.

California Values

The California Values Act, also known as SB 54, says local and state law enforcement may not use resources to investigate or arrest people for federal immigration purposes. The Ninth Circuit judges said they "have no doubt that SB 54 makes the jobs of federal immigration authorities more difficult." But that's not California's problem. "California has the right ... to refrain from assisting with federal efforts," the panel said in affirming a lower court decision.

President Trump started the legal fight last year, suing California over three state laws. AB 450 requires employers to notify employees before federal immigration inspections. AB 103 gives the state attorney general the power to inspect immigration detention facilities.

The appeals court upheld the laws, except for one provision that gave state authorities jurisdiction to examine the process of apprehension and transfer of immigrants in detention. The administration claimed that the Constitution gave the federal government "sweeping authority over immigration matters," NPR radio reported.

U.S. Immigration

Meanwhile, President Trump started another skirmish on the immigration front. Last week, he tweeted that "illegal immigrants who can no longer be legally held (Congress must fix the laws and loopholes) will be, subject to Homeland Security, given to sanctuary cities and states!"

According to reports, the president's own aides have told him that such a policy would likely be illegal or unfeasible. The Los Angeles Times said former immigration officials and legal experts agree.

Even so, the California governor took the opportunity to weigh in on the issue publicly. He called the proposed policy "nonsense," saying it sounds like the president wants to let more immigrants into the country rather deport them.

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