California Gov. Jerry Brown: Feds making up "lies" in sanctuary city lawsuit

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The Trump administration's feud with California hit a fever pitch Wednesday when the Justice Department sued the state over its sanctuary laws that protect undocumented immigrants. Twenty-one percent of the nation's undocumented population lives in California.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions traveled to the heart of the resistance, telling the state to "back off" on immigration.  

"California is using every power it has, powers it doesn't have, to frustrate federal law enforcement," he said.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions Makes A Sanctuary Jurisdiction Announcement In Sacramento

SACRAMENTO, CA - MARCH 07: Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks at the California Peace Officers' Association 26th Annual Law Enforcement Legislative Day on March 7, 2018 in Sacramento, California.

Stephen Lam / Getty Images

While Sessions was complaining about California obstructing justice, protesters were outside the state capitol obstructing traffic. But the protest also attracted some counter-demonstrators wearing "Make America Great Again" caps.

California Gov. Jerry Brown quickly answered the challenge.

"We've never had Washington come to California and sue the state and make up lies," Brown said.

The Justice Department lawsuit attempts to block three state laws. One restricts police from tipping off immigration agents about someone's legal status. Another prevents U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from keeping detainees in local jails. A third requires private employers to give notice before cooperating with ICE.

A flash point for Sessions was Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf tipping off city residents about recent immigration raids. Schaaf defended her actions, saying, "I was absolutely within my right to share information."

"So here's my message to Mayor Schaaf," Sessions said. "How dare you? How dare you needlessly endanger the lives of our law enforcement officers to promote your radical open borders agenda."

"This lawsuit -- they're talking about going to the Supreme Court -- this lawsuit is going to last a lot longer than the Trump administration," said Brown.

  • John Blackstone

    From his base in San Francisco, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone covers breaking stories throughout the West. That often means he is on the scene of wildfires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and rumbling volcanoes. He also reports on the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley and on social and economic trends that frequently begin in the West.