Texas and more than a dozen other states led by Republican governors got behind the Trump administration on Monday in its lawsuit over California’s so-called sanctuary laws that protect people in the U.S. illegally.
California’s laws are designed to interfere with or block federal immigration enforcement, and California does not have that authority, the states said in a court filing in the U.S. Department of Justice’s lawsuit against California. The filing in federal court in Sacramento supports the Justice Department’s attempt to block the laws.
An email to the California attorney general’s office was not immediately returned.
The Justice Department sued California in March over three state laws, including one that requires the state to review detention facilities where immigrants are held and another that limits the ability of state and local law enforcement officials to turn people over to immigration authorities.
Federal officials have said California officials have prevented them from removing dangerous people who are in the U.S. illegally. California officials have responded that their sanctuary policies increase public safety by promoting trust between immigrant communities and law enforcement.
The filing by Texas and the other states argues that California’s laws should be blocked on the same grounds that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 2010 Arizona immigration law.
The Arizona law required police, while enforcing other laws, to question the immigration status of people suspected of being in the country illegally, made it a crime to harbor immigrants here illegally, and banned them from seeking work in public places.
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down key provisions of the law in 2012. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said Arizona may have “understandable frustrations” with immigrants who are in the country illegally, but added that it can’t pursue policies that “undermine federal law.”
If Arizona’s laws are overridden by federal law, then so are California’s, the court filing for Texas and the other states said. They cited a legal document signed by California in the fight over Arizona’s law that said the removal of people in the country illegally was up to the federal government.
“With a new presidential administration, however, California has changed its tune,” the states said.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and legal experts have argued that California’s laws are different from Arizona’s.
The states also said California’s laws could harm them by making it easier for immigrants who have committed crimes to go to other states.
The states joining Texas are: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and West Virginia. Louisiana’s governor, John Bel Edwards, is a Democrat.