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Justice Department sues California, New Jersey and Seattle's county over sanctuary policies

Trump: Sanctuary cities "dangerous and shameful"

Attorney General William Barr announced that the Department of Justice is taking legal action against local and state governments from coast to coast over their sanctuary city policies. As part of the administration's crackdown on illegal immigration, Barr announced lawsuits against the states of California and New Jersey and King County in Washington state.

"When we are talking about sanctuary cities, we are talking about policies that are designed to allow criminal aliens to escape," Barr said Monday in a speech to the nation's sheriffs. "These policies are not about people who came to our country illegally but have otherwise been peaceful and productive members of society. Their express purpose is to shelter aliens whom local law enforcement has already arrested for other crimes. This is neither lawful nor sensible."

Barr was referring to state and local laws that prevent local law enforcement from cooperating with the federal government, as a way of obstructing the administration's immigration laws. It's a form of resistance commonly known as a "sanctuary" policy.

In all three jurisdictions, the department argues that the state or local governments are violating the supremacy clause of the Constitution by interfering with a federal activity.

In his speech to the sheriffs, Barr derided "so-called progressive politicians" who are "jeopardizing the public's safety by putting the interests of criminal aliens before those of law-abiding citizens." 

He said they "proudly brand their jurisdictions as 'sanctuaries' and package their obstructive policies in idealistic and misleading rhetoric about 'protecting the immigrant community."'

The department is suing over a statewide law enforcement directive that bars New Jersey officials from sharing information regarding the immigration status and release of individuals in their custody with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). 

The Department has also taken King County, Washington, where Seattle is located, to court over an executive order that bans ICE from conducting any deportations out of the county airport.

California recently instituted a ban on private detention facilities, which the Justice Department says is a "blatant attempt" to prevent Department of Homeland Security from detaining aliens and an attempt to interfere with the Bureau of Prisons and Marshals Service as they try to manage federal detainees.

In this case, the Justice Department argues that California has the right to determine the manner in which it manages state and local prisoners and detainees but can't dictate to the federal government how it has to conduct its operations.  

Last week, the Trump administration took action against New York over the state's new "Green Light law," which allows undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers licenses. It announced it would block New Yorkers' access to "Trusted Traveler" programs like Global Entry. The Department of Homeland Security rolled out plans Thursday to bar New York residents from enrolling or re-enrolling in the program, which offers expedited access through airport security lines and the U.S. border. 

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