‘Are you entitled to the aid of the state government in enforcing the immigration laws?’
(Maura Dolan, Los Angeles Times) A three-judge panel in the notoriously liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals seemed unlikely to back Trump administration efforts to jettison California’s sanctuary laws.
During a hearing on Wednesday, the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit considered an appeal of a lower-court decision upholding most of the package of state sanctuary laws.
The judges seemed skeptical over arguments that the centerpiece of the package—a law that prohibits police and sheriff’s officials from notifying immigration authorities of the release dates of immigrant inmates—was in violation of any federal statutes that would overturn it.
Judge Milan D. Smith Jr., appointed by President George W. Bush, acknowledged that the law made the work of immigration agents more difficult, but he suggested it was not illegal.
“Because it’s an obstacle, it doesn’t mean it is illegal, right?” he said.
Judge Andrew D. Hurwitz, an appointee of President Barack Obama, suggested there was no federal law that requires state cooperation.
“Are you entitled to the aid of the state government in enforcing the immigration laws?” he asked.
The Trump administration sued California in March 2018 to invalidate three sanctuary laws.
The other two laws allowed the attorney general to inspect immigration facilities and restricted employers from cooperating with immigration agents.
The 9th Circuit asked more critical questions about those laws but did not indicate clearly how it would rule.
Hurwitz asked if the court could simply block a provision in the laws without overturning them outright. A lawyer for the state said the court could do that.
U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez, appointed by George W. Bush, previously upheld the first two laws, rejecting only a provision in the third that established fines for private employers who voluntarily allow immigration agents to visit workplaces.
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