Trump administration files appeal in ongoing case against California over 'sanctuary' laws

By Mary Ann Magnell | Aug 22, 2018


U.S. District Judge John Mendez  

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline) – The United States of America has filed an appeal in federal court in an ongoing case in which it claims that the state of California overstepped its authority in its “sanctuary” state laws and violated the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The Trump administration filed the appeal Aug. 7 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, contesting the July 5 court decision granting in part and denying in part the United States’ motion for a preliminary injunction and the order granting in part and denying in part the state’s motion to dismiss that was entered on July 9. The federal government is seeking for the appeal to be heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The federal government alleged that California had overstepped its authority in three immigration laws enacted recently in California that are invalid, according to motions filed by both parties.

These laws included AB 103, which allowed California’s attorney general to investigate immigration detention facilities and processes, and AB 450. 


AB 450, referred to as the Immigrant Worker Protection Act, would prohibit private employers from voluntarily cooperating with federal officials for the purpose of immigration enforcement unless provided with a judicial warrant or subpoena.

Also included was SB 54, which would limit local law enforcement from transferring individuals or providing information about individuals who are subject to federal immigration custody to federal enforcement. 

The Aug. 7 appeal filed also addressed the July 9 filing that dismissed the plaintiff’s Supremacy Clause claims against AB 103, SB 54 and California Labor Code Section 90.2 (added by AB 450) without leave to amend. In the July 9 filing, Judge John Mendez denied the state of California’s motion to dismiss the Supremacy Clause claim in California Government Code Sections 7285.1 and 7285.2 and California labor Code Section 1019.2 (added by AB 450), the opinion stated.

The federal government stated that California lacked “the authority to intentionally interfere with private citizens’ [and state and local employees’] ability to cooperate voluntarily with the United States or to comply with federal obligations,” according to the July 5 order.

It also argued that the state stood “as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full proposes and objectives of Congress and are therefore preempted by federal law,” the July 5 order states.

The state of California, which included Gov. Edmund Gerald Brown Jr. and Attorney General Xavier Becerra, “vigorously” opposed the plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunction and maintained that the laws properly “'allocate the use of limited law-enforcement resources, provide workplace protections and protect the right of [California’s] residents,'” the July 5 order states.

The defendant stated that it “acted squarely within its constitutional authority when it enacted the laws.” 

In the filing on July 5, Mendez noted that the case presented “unique and novel constitutional issues,” and that the court needed to answer, “where the United States’ enumerated power over immigration ends and California’s reserved police power begins.” 

Mendez wrote that the motion required the court to “determine the proper balance between the twin powers of California and the United States.”

In his filing, he found that AB 103, SB 54 and the employee notice provision of AB 450 were “permissible exercises of California’s sovereign power.” However, he noted that the three challenged provisions of AB 450 were not, and that they “impermissibly infringed on the sovereignty of the United States.”   

U.S. District Court Eastern District of California case number 2:18-cv-490-JAM-KJN

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