Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ assailed California’s recently passed “sanctuary state” law while speaking to federal immigration officers in Portland, OR, on Tuesday. Sessions, whose well-publicized unpopularity with President Trump has intensified his anti-immigrant crusade, described the bill an “unconscionable” threat to public safety and urged California Governor Jerry Brown to reject it.
“The bill risks the safety of good law enforcement officers and the safety of the neighborhoods that need their protection the most,” Sessions said, per The Los Angeles Times. “There are lives and livelihoods at stake.”
Sessions’ condemnation of California’s bill and sanctuary cities as a whole employed the same bigoted vitriol that is characteristic of the attorney general. “This state of lawlessness allows gangs to smuggle guns, drugs and even humans across borders and around cities and communities,” Sessions claimed. “That makes a sanctuary city a trafficker, smuggler or gang member’s best friend.”
Gov. Brown, who has consistently denounced the Trump administration’s immigration policies, made it clear he had no intention of succumbing to Sessions’ demands. “It protects public safety but it also protects hardworking people who contribute a lot to California,” Brown told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “We’re not soldiers of Donald Trump or the federal immigration service.”
California’s so-called sanctuary state bill, Brown said, protected against “this kind of xenophobia that we see too much of coming out of Washington DC.” The state’s legislature traded amendments on the bill for several months before it was passed as “well-balanced” legislation, in Brown’s words. While the law does prevent police officers from asking about immigration status, federal immigration officials are still able to access the state’s crime data and interview suspects in jail.