Donald Trump administration sues California over immigration laws

Donald Trump

The US government has filed a lawsuit against the state of California over immigration laws that it alleged were "unconstitutional" and against the policies of President Donald Trump. The department filed a federal lawsuit on late Tuesday against the state and its top officials to stop a cluster of so-called "sanctuary state" bills -- a move that puts the administration on offence but is nonetheless likely to generate heated litigation over the boundaries of immigration authority, CNN reported.

The lawsuit was the latest broadside from the Trump administration against so-called "sanctuary cities" -- referring to localities that abide by some measure of non-cooperation with federal law enforcement -- and amid an already heightened level of tension with California. Trump administration officials have repeatedly attacked sanctuary jurisdictions and local officials as "harbouring dangerous criminals". In the lawsuit, Attorney General Jeff Sessions urged a federal judge to block three laws approved in California, alleging they hampered immigration authorities from discharging their duties, including deportation of undocumented immigrants.

The laws "reflect a deliberate effort by California to obstruct the US' enforcement of federal immigration law," the lawsuit said. Sessions was expected to announce on Wednesday the lawsuit during a meeting with law enforcement officials in California. The lawsuit was specifically directed at California Governor Jerry Brown and state Attorney General Xavier Becerra. Brown already termed the move a "political stunt" and claimed that Sessions had come to California to further divide and polarize the US.

Becerra, on his part, defended the constitutionality of California laws and said that state and local entities had the right to determine policies that were best for them. Sessions, under Trump's orders, began a campaign against "sanctuary" policies that sheltered or protected undocumented immigrants from being deported.

Larger US cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago and New York ruled by the opposition Democrats, adopted policies that hinder the sharing of information between the local police and immigration officers.

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