California Wins Round One of the Sanctuary Litigation

SB 54 Sponsor Kevin de LeónCourt (mostly) denies Trump Administration’s Request for an Injunction of SB 54
by Brian Leubitz

In a 60 page decision, Federal District Judge John Mendez denied an injunction on all parts of SB 54, California’s Sanctuary State legislation relating to state and local governments. However, Judge Mendez did issue an injunction over accompanying legislation, AB 450, which dealt with private employers, and their willingness to hand over records without a warrant or allow federal immigration agents access to nonpublic areas of their businesses.

You can read the full decision here.

For the most part, the logic of the Court was that the state has no obligation to use state policing resources to provide assistance to federal immigration forces.

[The Federal Government] argues that requiring a judicial warrant or judicial finding of probable cause is irreconcilable with the INA, which establishes a system of civil administrative warrants as the basis for immigration arrest and removal. …

The Court disagrees and instead finds that California’s decision not to assist federal immigration enforcement in its endeavors is not an “obstacle” to that enforcement effort. Plaintiff’s argument that SB 54 makes immigration enforcement far more burdensome begs the question: more burdensome than what? The laws make enforcement more burdensome than it would be if state and local law enforcement provided immigration officers with their assistance. But refusing to help is not the same as impeding. If such were the rule, obstacle preemption could be used to commandeer state resources and subvert Tenth Amendment principles. Federal objectives will always be furthered if states offer to assist federal efforts. A state’s decision not to assist in those activities will always make the federal object more difficult to attain than it would be otherwise. Standing aside does not equate to standing in the way. (Page 43)

Of course, this is just a motion for a preliminary injunction, but Judge Mendez did use the opportunity to add another point about the immigration debate:

[T]his Court joins the ever-growing chorus of Federal Judges in urging our elected officials to set aside the partisan and polarizing politics dominating the current immigration debate and work in a cooperative and bi-partisan fashion toward drafting and passing legislation that addresses this critical political issue. Our Nation deserves it. Our Constitution demands it. (Page 60)