Trump Loses Fight Over California's Immigrant-Sanctuary Laws

(Bloomberg) -- The Trump administration lost its challenge to a California law that restricts local police from helping federal authorities round up and deport undocumented immigrants.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco agreed Thursday with a Sacramento federal judge who ruled that the 2017 state law doesn’t conflict with federal immigration statutes. The three-judge panel also upheld a California measure that requires private employers to alert workers before federal immigration inspections, while directing the lower-court judge to re-examine part of a third law that authorizes the state attorney general to inspect facilities that house immigrants not detained for criminal offenses.

Overall, Thursday’s decision marked another defeat for President Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown, which has been repeatedly stymied by courts since he took office in January 2017. Trump has frequently criticized California for not supporting his policies on illegal immigration and threatened just this week to send migrants caught crossing the southern border into the U.S. to so-called sanctuary cities -- most of them Democratic strongholds -- if they can no longer be legally detained.

The appeals court concluded that while Congress may have expected cooperation between state and federal authorities on immigration enforcement, Washington doesn’t have the constitutional power to require California’s assistance.

SB 54, known as the California Values Act, bars local officials from informing federal officials about immigrants’ release dates from jail except in serious criminal cases. was signed into law by former Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat who led the most populous state’s resistance to Trump’s agenda before he was succeeded this year by Gavin Newsom.

“SB 54 may well frustrate the federal government’s immigration enforcement efforts,” the court said in its 54-page ruling. “However, whatever the wisdom of the underlying policy adopted by California, that frustration is permissible, because California has the right, pursuant to the anticommandeering rule, to refrain from assisting with federal efforts.”

The Ninth Circuit has drawn Trump’s ire for rulings against the president’s immigration agenda. The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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