Sacramento, CA - This afternoon, U.S. District Court Judge John Mendez, a George W. Bush appointee, issued a new ruling which deals yet another significant defeat to the Trump administration. Specifically, the judge dismissed the Federal Government's lawsuit against both SB 54, California's "Sanctuary law," which limits local entanglement with painful deportations, and AB 103, which tasks the California Attorney General with monitoring immigration jails. The judge also threw out the Trump administration's suit against the provision in AB 450, the Immigrant Worker Protection Act, that requires employers to notify employees of “I-9” audits.
The dismissal is the second major legal setback for the Trump administration in this case. Last Thursday, the judge rejected the federal government's request to temporarily halt parts of SB 54 and AB 103 and employee notice provision in AB 450, while temporarily suspending other provisions of AB 450.
In response to this latest development, the ICE Out of California Coalition Steering Committee, including Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus, California Immigrant Policy Center, California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network - issued the following statement
This new ruling is yet another victory for our values of equality and compassion - and yet another defeat for the federal government's cruel, immoral and hateful agenda.
This new decision makes it resoundingly clear that the Trump administration cannot force local governments to do the dirty work of separating families.
Community members and organizations across the state fought hard to win these protections. And we will keep fighting to uphold our shared humanity and to protect due process for everyone, including immigrants.
Background: Last year, California passed several laws to protect residents from the Trump administration’s cruel deportation machine, building on years of inclusive policy-making. Immigrant communities themselves were crucial to these victories. In March, the Trump administration sued to challenge specific sections of three of these pro-immigrant laws. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the suit at a controversial meeting with law enforcement in Sacramento, raising questions about efforts by anti-immigrant forces to influence policy in California. Of note, the suit came weeks after Sessions made comments about the “Anglo-American heritage” of Sheriffs’ offices.
The federal government is only challenging parts of the three laws. Nearly 50 local governments in California and nationwide, plus eight states and Washington, DC, have filed friend-of-the-court briefs in support of California’s position.
SB 54 (de León), also known as the “Sanctuary State” law or the California Values Act, sets a minimum standard across the state to limit local law enforcement from acting as deportation agents. This helps protect due process for everyone, including immigrants. A recent study from the Migration Policy Institute found that “sanctuary” policies like SB 54 have successfully reduced deportations. While an organization designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center has been attempting to orchestrate opposition to SB 54 in certain conservative areas of the state, recent polling has found a solid majority of voters support the “sanctuary state” law. The Trump administration’s previous attacks on “sanctuary” jurisdictions have met a series of defeats in court.
AB 103 challenges the indignity of detention, increasing transparency by requiring the California Attorney General to monitor all detention facilities in the state, which have come under increasing scrutiny for serious abuses. (This is the only provision challenged by the Trump administration.) The law also prohibits the expansion of detention facilities operated by local governments. Profits of private prison companies have skyrocketed under the Trump administration.
The Immigrant Worker Protection Act, AB 450 (Chiu), requires employers to notify employees when immigration paperwork, i.e. ,I-9 forms, are reviewed by ICE. While the judge temporarily suspended other provisions of the law, including one requiring a warrant signed by a judge before allowing ICE agents access to private areas of the workplace, employers can still choose to deny ICE access without a warrant.