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Newsletter: Jeff Sessions does California and the U.S. a favor

Jeff Sessions
U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions addresses the California Peace Officers’ Assn. in Sacramento on March 7.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, and it is Saturday, March 10, 2018. Let’s take a look back at the week in Opinion.

Here’s part of a headline you probably did not expect to read above a Los Angeles Times editorial: “Thanks, Jeff Sessions.”

Yes, you read that right: Although the U.S. attorney general may have it out for California over so-called immigrant sanctuary policies, The Times Editorial Board says some good can come from Sessions’ lawsuit against the state. One of the most aggravating issues of the immigration debate has been the uneasy relationship between Washington and the states on enforcing the law. Kicking this issue to the courts provides the best hope for settling the question of how much a state like California must aide or cooperate with federal immigration agents.

Oddly, we (sort of) welcome the Trump administration’s legal challenge in hopes that it will clarify not just for state officials, but for the federal government where the lines of responsibility and culpability might lie. We suspect the courts will side with California on most if not all of the legal issues Session’s lawsuit raises, and in the process could underscore the reality that California’s menu of state and local laws limiting involvement with federal immigration enforcement do not offer anyone anything remotely like sanctuary. ...

What this lawsuit really is about is politics. California political leaders have persistently challenged a wide range of Trump administration policies. Brown is the main figure in a global coalition of sub-national governments seeking to meet global-warming emissions under the Paris Agreement that Trump is walking away from. State Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra has sued the administration over the suspension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the travel ban, a Trump rule allowing more employers to stop offering insurance coverage for birth control, and on and on.

For the administration, liberal and ethnically diverse California is the America its political supporters hate, and this lawsuit is another front in our ongoing culture wars. So as state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León tweeted, “Bring it on.” Clarifying these lines of responsibility just might do everyone some good.

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It’s the Trump administration flouting the Constitution, not California. What the state wants to do is protect its residents and businesses from the stormtrooper-like raids of federal immigration officers, not thwart the sound enforcement of U.S. law, writes the ACLU’s Jennie Pasquarella: “In the end, the Sessions lawsuit is tantamount to an admission that the federal government cannot engage in mass roundups of immigrants in our communities without trampling on bedrock 4th Amendment requirements and without conscripting our local institutions into that effort.” L.A. Times

But one California politician did go too far. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, citing multiple sources she did not identify, issued a statement last week about upcoming Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in the Bay Area. It’s one thing to oppose the Trump administration, says The Times Editorial Board; it’s another thing entirely to undercut the law and thwart the apprehension of people who might very well be dangerous criminals who happen to be in the country without authorization. L.A. Times

More on Sessions vs. California:

  • “Jeff Sessions sends California a strong message on immigration” (The Hill)
  • “Jeff Sessions’ ‘problem’ with California is bogus” (CNN)
  • “How an Obama-administration precedent may doom California’s effort to make itself a ‘sanctuary state’ ” (National Review)
  • “The constitutional question California and Jeff Sessions are really fighting about” (Sacramento Bee)

It’s time for the “Chicanosauruses” to step aside. Columnist Gustavo Arellano invites the following California politicians, who he believes have outlasted their usefulness to voters, to make way for new blood: Dianne Feinstein, Gill Cedillo, the Lowenthals of Long Beach and just about every Orange County Republican. Antonio Villaraigosa and Gavin Newsom aren’t on Arellano’s list, but they’re getting close. L.A. Times

Jews should support reparations for slavery. Rabbi Sharon Brous compares the history of African slavery in the United States to the ancient rabbinic dispute of what to do with a palace built on the foundation of a stolen beam: It does no good to destroy the structure, but its use over generations would diminish the memory of the original theft. The right solution is to try to rectify the original injury. Similarly, the United States was built with the stolen labor of stolen human beings, and the descendants of those people deserve reparations. L.A. Times


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