Trump's Justice Department sues California over immigration enforcement

The Justice Department sued California late Tuesday, escalating the battle between the Trump administration and local governments over the issue of providing sanctuaries from a crackdown on immigration enforcement.

The lawsuit, which also names Gov. Jerry Brown and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, challenges three recently passed state laws that the Trump administration says hinder enforcement of federal immigration law and endanger federal agents.

"The Department of Justice and the Trump administration are going to fight these unjust, unfair, and unconstitutional policies that have been imposed on you," U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in remarks prepared for delivery to a law enforcement convention.

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Sanctuary cities in the United States
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Sanctuary cities in the United States

Washington, DC

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New York City, New York

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

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Los Angeles, California

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San Francisco, California

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San Diego, California

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Detroit, Michigan 

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Chicago, Illinois 

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Minneapolis, Minnesota 

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Denver, Colorado

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Baltimore, Maryland

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Seattle, Washington

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Portland, Oregon

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Cambridge, Massachusetts

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Berkeley, California

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Watsonville, California

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 East Haven, Connecticut

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Hartford, Connecticut

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West Palm Beach, Florida

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Louisville, Kentucky

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New Orleans, Louisiana 

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Amherst, Massachusetts

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Boston, Massachusetts

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Lawrence, Massachusetts

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Somerville, Massachusetts

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Jackson, Mississippi

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Newark, New Jersey

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Albany, New York

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Ithaca, New York

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Springfield, Oregon

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Providence, Rhode Island

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Burlington, Vermont

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In signing the bills into law last October, Gov. Brown said they strike "a balance that will protect public safety while bringing a measure of comfort to those families who are now living in fear every day."

The laws provide some of the most generous protections in the nation for immigrants facing deportation, but the Justice Department argues that they improperly venture into the enforcement of U.S. immigration law that is strictly a matter for the federal authorities.

DOJ lawyers consider the laws to be a novel attempt to regulate federal immigration.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in the state capital of Sacramento, challenges three specific laws:

— SB 54, which restricts law enforcement officials from notifying federal immigration agents about the release dates for prisoners in their custody who have been convicted and therefore face deportation. It also prohibits local officials from transferring those prisoners to federal custody.

As a result, the Justice Department says, immigration agents face greater danger in re-arresting the former prisoners once they're back on the streets.

— AB 450, which forbids private employers from cooperating with immigration agents who conduct worksite enforcement operations. The law also requires employers to tell their workers when federal agents are coming to conduct inspections.

The Justice Department said a committee of the state legislature described the law as an effort to frustrate "an expected increase in federal immigration enforcement actions."

— And AB 103, which requires the state to inspect detention facilities where federal authorities are holding immigrants who face deportation.

Related: Department of Justice demands documents over sanctuary cities

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Faces of Trump's immigration crackdown
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Faces of Trump's immigration crackdown
Mexican national Adalberto Magana-Gonzalez, 44, waits to be processed after being taken into custody by a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Fugitive Operations team in Santa Ana, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "NICHOLSON ARREST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
Mexican national Adalberto Magana-Gonzalez, 44, has his fingerprints taken after being taken into custody by a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Fugitive Operations team in Santa Ana, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "NICHOLSON ARREST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
The badge of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Fugitive Operations team is seen in Santa Ana, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "NICHOLSON ARREST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Field Office Director Jorge Field (R), 53, arrests Mexican national Adalberto Magana-Gonzalez, 44, in San Clemente, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "NICHOLSON ARREST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Mexican national Adalberto Magana-Gonzalez, 44, waits to be processed after being taken into custody by a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Fugitive Operations team in Santa Ana, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "NICHOLSON ARREST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Field Office Director Jorge Field (R), 53, arrests Mexican national Adalberto Magana-Gonzalez, 44, in San Clemente, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "NICHOLSON ARREST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Fugitive Operations team takes immigration fugitives into custody in Santa Ana, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "NICHOLSON ARREST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Handcuffs lie in a box at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Fugitive Operations office in Santa Ana, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "NICHOLSON ARREST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Field Office Director Jorge Field (L), 53, arrests an Iranian immigrant in San Clemente, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "NICHOLSON ARREST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Field Office Director Jorge Field (R), 53, and Field Office Director David Marin arrest an Iranian immigrant in San Clemente, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "NICHOLSON ARREST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Field Office Director Jorge Field, 53, arrests an Iranian immigrant in San Clemente, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "NICHOLSON ARREST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Fugitive Operations team member arrests an Iranian immigrant in Santa Ana, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "NICHOLSON ARREST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Fugitive Operations team search for an immigration fugitive in Santa Ana, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "NICHOLSON ARREST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Field Office Director Jorge Field, 53, arrests an Iranian immigrant in San Clemente, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "NICHOLSON ARREST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Fugitive Operations team search for an immigration fugitive in Santa Ana, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "NICHOLSON ARREST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
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Supporters of the laws argue they make communities safer by encouraging undocumented victims of crime to come forward without fear of being detained. But the Justice Department has questioned why California, after arresting someone for violating a state law, then hinders federal efforts to deport the offender. Immigrants who commit crimes are a priority for deportation.

The suit asks a federal judge to declare the state laws invalid and block their enforcement. It is separate from other cases, now working their way through the courts, that are challenging the Justice Department's efforts to withhold federal crime-fighting funds from sanctuary communities.

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