Firestorm of opposition grows against California sanctuary laws

Press Releases

April 6, 2018

IRLI plays key role in mounting legal assault

WASHINGTON—The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) is fighting California’s dangerous and unconstitutional sanctuary laws by filing two friend-of-the-court briefs with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California in support of the federal government’s lawsuit against these unlawful enactments.

On March 6, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit to stop California’s defiance of federal immigration law. Last year the state enacted laws that restrict the ability of local law enforcement agents to cooperate with federal immigration officials. The lawsuit, titled U.S. v. California, claims that three California state laws, “The California Values Act” (SB54), “The Immigrant Worker Protection Act” (AB450), and Assembly Bill 103 (AB103) unconstitutionally obstruct the federal government’s ability to enforce immigration laws.

IRLI takes aim at SB54 and AB450 in the motion and brief it filed this morning on behalf of the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA), Advocates for Victims of Illegal Alien Crime (AVIAC), and the group Fight Sanctuary State. This brief shows that SB54 and AB450 directly interfere with federal enforcement of immigration law, even in ways that invite armed confrontations between state and federal officers. The brief also shows that authority to pass these laws is not reserved to the states in the Tenth Amendment, and that SB54, in which California decides for itself which categories of aliens get to stay in the United States, usurps the federal government’s exclusive authority over foreign relations.

IRLI addresses all three state laws in a separate brief that will be filed tonight on behalf of a coalition of California municipalities and elected officials, including the cities of Escondido, Mission Viejo and Yorba Linda, and U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48). These municipalities and officials have grave concerns that the challenged state laws not only violate federal supremacy, but will make cities and officials criminally liable. Among other things, the brief shows that by restricting the ability of local governments and private businesses to cooperate with federal immigration officers, AB450 and SB54 compel them to commit the federal crime of concealing, harboring, or shielding illegal aliens. The brief also demonstrates that contacting and working with governmental enforcement authorities is protected First Amendment activity that California cannot constitutionally prohibit.

“Elected officials in California are free to name their bills ‘The California Values Act’ and the like, but the federal government and the Constitution speak for Californians on matters of immigration,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “There is ample legal precedent in this area, and it clearly supports the federal government’s position. This is a textbook application of the Supremacy Clause,” Wilcox continued, “and laws like SB54 and AB450 are not only flagrantly unconstitutional but extremely dangerous – to both the safety of the American people and the integrity of our federal republic.”

The case is U.S. v. California, No. 18-490 (U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California).

For additional information, contact: Brian Lonergan • 202-232-5590 • [email protected]

Get Connected

Sign up for our email newsletter to stay up to date with immigration reform in the United States.

Attorneys United for a Secure America (AUSA) is a non-partisan affiliation of talented attorneys dedicated to pursuing cases that serve the national interest when it comes to immigration law.

If you are interested in joining the network, visit the AUSA website.