Local immigration activists and elected officials Wednesday condemned the U.S. Justice Department’s lawsuit challenging state laws that offer a level of protection to immigrants in the country illegally, calling it an act of “fear-mongering” that will not reduce crime.
Jeff Sessions Targets California Specifically Over Immigration
Attorney General Jeff Sessions detailed the lawsuit Wednesday morning during a meeting of the California Peace Officers Association in Sacramento.
“In recent years, California has enacted a number of laws designed to intentionally obstruct the work of our sworn immigration enforcement officers — to intentionally use every power it has to undermine duly established immigration law in America,” Sessions said.
Sessions Says California Cannot “Obstruct” ICE Agents
He said Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents “are federal law enforcement officers carrying out federal law. California cannot forbid them or obstruct them in doing their jobs.”
Angelica Salas, executive director of the Los Angeles-based Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, said Sessions and President Donald Trump “are utilizing the tools of deception and fear mongering to advance a draconian, inhumane and broad anti-immigrant agenda.”
“We Will Not Be Intimidated By Bigotry”
“California has acted to protect all of its residents, the Attorney General’s actions to sue California for utilizing its purview to protect its residents is only an indication of the radical agenda of this administration,” Salas said. “We will not be intimidated by bigotry and fear. California’s state constitutional rights and duty is to protect the welfare of our residents from the Trump’s administration obsession to persecute immigrants.”
Rusty Hicks, president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, called it ironic that Trump would turn to the courts to challenge California, when, “for decades, Donald Trump has used the courts as a financial sanctuary for his bankrupt businesses.”
“The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor welcomes the chance to join in the defense of our rights as Californians,” Hicks said.
“Lying To The American People”
Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, who authored legislation preventing cities from expanding contracts with for-profit prison companies to detain immigrants, accused Sessions and Trump of “lying to the American people.”
“This isn’t about stopping crime. We have prisons and jails for people convicted of crimes,” he said. “These are immigrant jails and we don’t want them to expand in California.”
“These Laws Are Harmful To Californians”
The Justice Department lawsuit specifically targets California laws that prevent business owners from helping immigration agents track down workers living in the country illegally, prohibit law enforcement from notifying ICE when immigrants are released from custody and authorize state inspections of federal detention centers.
“Importantly, these laws are harmful to Californians, and they’re especially harmful to law enforcement,” Sessions said.
“… We are simply asking California and other sanctuary jurisdictions to stop actively obstructing federal law enforcement,” he said.