Supreme Court rejects Trump administration challenge to California’s “sanctuary” law

[JUNE 15, 2020] The Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear the Trump administration’s challenge to one of California’s “sanctuary city” laws, which limits state and local cooperation with federal immigration authorities. The move left in place a lower court ruling that upholds the law.

The case took on the question of whether state and local governments could effectively grant sanctuary to undocumented immigrants who have been threatened with arrest or deportation.

California passed the law in 2017, effectively barring state and local agencies from sharing certain information with federal immigration officials, such as an immigrant’s address or expected date of release from custody. The law also prevents state and local officials from transferring custody to federal immigration officials without a warrant.

Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the law “unconscionable,” and the Trump administration sued California on the grounds that the law purposefully “undermines” federal immigration enforcement.

The law’s “conceded purpose to obstruct — and effect of obstructing — federal law through its own regulatory scheme makes the state law unenforceable,” Solicitor General Noel Francisco claimed.

California, on the other hand, argued that federal interposition might interfere with state and local law enforcement efforts.

“Undue entanglement with immigration enforcement can deter victims and witnesses from reporting state crimes and divert limited resources from other activities that the legislature has determined will better protect local public safety,” the state claimed.

A federal district court ruled against the administration, which the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld last year, saying that “standing aside does not equate to standing in the way.”

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Roger Sollenberger