Administration stymied again by federal courts over sanctuary city policies
A familiar villain, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, handed the Trump administration a stinging defeat in its bid to punish sanctuary cities in California for refusing to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
The panel ruled unanimously that most of the three sanctuary city laws being challenged by the administration can continue to be enforced, rejecting most of the suit brought by the Justice Department.
The judges declined to block the most contentious law, Senate Bill 54, which prohibits police and sheriff's officials from notifying immigration authorities when immigrant inmates are released from prison. In the opinion, Judge Milan D. Smith Jr. wrote: "We have no doubt that makes the jobs of federal immigration authorities more difficult." However, he added that the law "does not directly conflict with any obligations" placed on state or local governments by federal law "because federal law does not mandate any state action."
While Judge Smith and his colleagues declined to rule in the administration's favor, he gives a clear path forward. "Because federal law does not mandate any state action," the obvious solution is to change federal law.
Congress can do this. Of course, any congressional action on sanctuary cities will be challenged in court — and probably not only by sanctuary cities. Forcing state and local governments to comply with orders from federal immigration authorities would be intrusive. But it's also necessary. If local governments will not cooperate in enforcing the law of the land, the federal government has little choice but to compel their obedience.
California officials have said the immigration laws promote trust between immigrant communities and law enforcement.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who has repeatedly sued the Trump administration, mostly over immigration and environmental decisions, said the ruling shows that states' rights "continue to thrive."
"We continue to prove in California that the rule of law not only stands for something but that people cannot act outside of it," Becerra said in a statement.
I find it amusing that the Left has decided it supports "states' rights" after all — at least in this one instance. Usually, they use "states' rights" as a club to justify overbearing federal intervention in many areas of government that Washington has no business being.
I don't think the administration will ever get satisfaction on this issue in the federal courts. If Republicans can retake the House in 2020, dealing with sanctuary cities must be a top priority. The continued defiance of local governments who use the excuse illegals wouldn't cooperate with local police in crime fighting has to stop. Illegal aliens rarely cooperate with local police or any state or federal authority anyway. The excuse is just a pretext to allow illegal aliens the ability to flout the rule of law and remain hidden from justice.