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Judge tosses much of Trump admin lawsuit, protects California's limited cooperation with ICE

A federal judge dismissed most of a Trump administration lawsuit that sought to block some of California's immigration laws. (Image source: Fox News video screenshot)

The Trump administration's efforts to force California authorities to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement were dealt a serious blow Monday, when a federal judge dismissed the most significant portions of the administration's lawsuit to block the state's immigration laws, according to The Hill.

Just days after rejecting a preliminary injunction to put some of the laws on hold while the court proceedings continued, U.S. District Judge John Mendez ruled that California authorities have the right to refuse cooperation with federal immigration agents and the state has the right to oversee its detention facilities.

"Today's decision is a victory for our state's ability to safeguard the privacy, safety, and constitutional authority to protect our residents and the rule of law," California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said. "Though the Trump administration may continue to attack a state like California and its ability to make its own laws, we will continue to protect our constitutional authority to protect our residents and the rule of law."

How did we get here?

In March, the Trump administration sued the state of California over laws that limited cooperation between local and state law enforcement and federal immigration enforcement, and between private employers and federal immigration enforcement.

The lawsuit was filed on the basis that California, by passing the laws, had violated the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution. The Supremacy Clause "prohibits states from interfering with the federal government's exercise of its constitutional powers, and from assuming any functions that are exclusively entrusted to the federal government."

The state filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit in its entirety. The court granted the motion to dismiss the lawsuit against two of the laws, and part of a third. The motion to dismiss was denied in regard to a part of the law limiting private employer cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

What was dismissed?

The court dismissed the lawsuit against the following laws, allowing them to stand:

Senate Bill 54: This law "restricts California law enforcement agencies from sharing an individual's release dates and personal information (i.e. home and work addresses) for immigration enforcement purposes" and "from transferring individuals to immigration authorities."

Assembly Bill 103: This law "directs the California Attorney General's attention to civil immigration detention facilities within the State and establishes a review and reporting requirement with respect to those facilities." It requires the facilities to give the state access, but does not give the state authority to determine whether an immigrant should be detained or deported.

Assembly Bill 450 (partial): The court dismissed the lawsuit against the portions of this law that "requires employers to provide notice to their employees 'of any inspections of I-9 Employment Verification forms or other employment records conducted by an immigration agency within 72 hours of receiving notice of the inspection," and to "provide affected employees with the results of the inspection."

What wasn't dismissed?

The court denied the motion to dismiss for the following laws, meaning the lawsuit against them may continue:

Assembly Bill 450 (partial): The court denied the motion to dismiss the parts of AB 450 that "prohibit employers from providing voluntary consent to an immigration enforcement agent to enter nonpublic areas of a place of labor or to access, review or obtain the employer's employee records" and "prohibits employers from reverifying the employment eligibility of current employees when not required by federal law.

The Department of Justice, in a statement sent to TheBlaze, expressed disappointment in the judge's decision and an intention to continue fighting "unjust policies."

“When they passed SB 54, AB 103, and AB 450, California’s political leadership clearly intended to obstruct federal immigration authorities in their state," Justice Department spokesman Devin O'Malley said in the statement. "The preliminary injunction of AB 450 is a major victory for private employers in California who are no longer prevented from cooperating with legitimate enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws. While we are disappointed that California’s other laws designed to protect criminal aliens were not yet halted, the Justice Department will continue to seek out and fight unjust policies that threaten public safety.”

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