(CN) – California has filed a motion in federal court to dismiss the Justice Department’s lawsuit against its sanctuary city policy.
Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the Golden State’s latest legal gambit in a case that contemplates the principles of federalism, states’ rights, immigration and the fight between California and the Trump administration that continues to play out through the courts.
“The 10th Amendment of the Constitution gives the people of California, not the Trump Administration, the power to decide how we will provide for the public safety and general welfare of our state,” Becerra said on Friday. “The federal government has no grounds to intrude on California’s constitutional authority to enact laws designed to protect its people.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions flew to California at the beginning of March to file a lawsuit claiming three bills passed in 2017 by the California Legislature and signed into law by California Gov. Jerry Brown are unconstitutional.
The three laws limit the ability of state law enforcement officials to assist with federal immigration agents in enforcing federal policy.
Sessions and the Trump administration argue the policies violate the Supremacy Clause, included in the U.S. Constitution, which mandates that states cannot pass laws that openly contradict federal policy.
Becerra has long maintained California’s laws do not contradict federal policy, but just stipulate how state officials will interact with that policy, which is well within their constitutional rights.
In the motions to be filed in one of several suits California is pursuing against the Trump administration through the federal court system, Becerra said he will argue the laws are consistent with the Immigration and Naturalization Act and in no way undermine the federal government’s ability to enforce its policy.
“California’s laws work in concert – not conflict – with federal laws and are fully constitutional,” Becerra said.
To buttress the technical arguments in the case, Becerra said his motion will detail how sanctuary laws are important for public safety, in that immigrants need to be able to trust local law enforcement officials in order to report crimes taking place within their community.
Sessions has said the policies endanger immigration agents and federal workers and prioritize lawbreakers over those who abide by the rules.
Legal experts believe both entities have a strong case and expect a closely fought contest in the courtroom.