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Justice Department Sues State Of California Over Sanctuary Policies

SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) -- The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the state California late Tuesday over its sanctuary city policies and three laws that interfere with federal immigration law.

A senior justice official told CBS News that the Justice Department is naming the state of California, Governor Jerry Brown and State Attorney General Xavier Becerra in the lawsuit filed over interference with federal immigration activities.

But Becerra says California has a constitutional right to establish its own sanctuary laws.

The lawsuit is being filed in federal court in Sacramento and brings the Trump administration's feud with California to a new level.

It was announced Tuesday morning that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions would be in Sacramento on Wednesday morning to make a major announcement on the issue of giving sanctuary to undocumented immigrants.

The suit seeks to prevent California from implementing three state laws which the Department of Justice alleges "intentionally obstruct and discriminate" against the enforcement of federal immigration law.

The DOJ alleges that the laws in question are preempted by federal law and violate the supremacy clause of the constitution.

The first state law feds are targeting is Assembly Bill 450. The Department of Justice alleges this law prohibits private employers from voluntarily cooperating with federal immigration officials.

The second law brought up in the suit is Senate Bill 54. The administration believes the law restricts state and local law enforcement from voluntarily providing information to federal immigration authorities about the release date of removable criminal aliens who are in their custody.

The third law is Assembly Bill 103, which allegedly imposes a state-run inspection and review scheme of the federal detention of aliens held in facilities pursuant to federal contracts.

The law also requires disclosure of privileged federal records.

Gov. Brown issued a statement in response to the news about Sessions coming to Sacramento to announce the suit blocking California legislation.

"At a time of unprecedented political turmoil, Jeff Sessions has come to California to further divide and polarize America," Brown's statement read. "Jeff, these political stunts may be the norm in Washington, but they don't work here. SAD!!!"

The debate over immigration enforcement in California escalated last week when Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf issued a warning to the community on Sunday, February 25, ahead of a large-scale operation by federal immigration authorities.

White House officials last week suggested that Schaaf may have engaged in obstruction of justice by warning the community before recent U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids that resulted in the arrest of about 230 people between Sunday and Wednesday of last week.

But according to the senior justice official who spoke with CBS News, there was no update on whether the Department of Justice will charge Schaaf for obstruction over her warning.

Schaaf released a statement early Tuesday evening shortly before the suit was filed.

"Oakland is a city of immigrants. We will continue to exercise our legal right to exist as a sanctuary city. We will continue to inform all residents about their Constitutional rights, and we will continue to support California's sanctuary status," the statement read. "We will also distinguish between law abiding residents who work hard and contribute to our community from dangerous criminals."

The statement also reiterated some of Schaaf's criticism of the Trump administration.

"This administration has tried to portray all immigrants as villains. We know that is a racist lie, and we will shed light on that myth every day," the statement continued. "This administration also wants residents to cower and stay silent. In Oakland, we will stand up and speak out."

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