Reaction among Orange County congressional leaders to the U.S. Justice Department’s lawsuit against a state law protecting immigrants in the country illegally broke down along party lines Wednesday, with Republicans praising the lawsuit while Democrats criticized it.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the suit Wednesday at a meeting of the California Peace Officers Association in Sacramento.
“In recent years, California has enacted a number of laws designed to intentionally obstruct the work of our sworn immigration enforcement officers — to intentionally use every power it has to undermine duly established immigration law in America,” Sessions said.
He said Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents “are federal law enforcement officers carrying out federal law. California cannot forbid them or obstruct them in doing their jobs.”
Some local officials had a different take.
“Frankly, I do hope President Trump and Attorney General Sessions respects California’s sovereignty when it comes to immigration and other issues, like cannabis, which are best left to Californians,” said Rep. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana. “When the federal government fails to act states like California should take the lead, and we have,” he added. “California has passed its own immigration (law) to keep its communities safe.
“California is the fifth largest economy in the world, and soon to overtake Great Britain to become the fourth largest. California is doing it right. Let us continue to grow and create jobs for our hard-working people with and without documents.”
Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, agreed. Lowenthal’s district includes parts of Orange County.
“I applaud Gov. (Jerry) Brown,” Lowenthal said. “He is proving what we already know: In California, we stand up to bullies. The Trump administration is trying to stoke divisions with lawsuits and raids on our immigrant communities, but it won’t work. I fight every day to make sure our communities are safe for everyone, and our law enforcement leaders tell me that the policies we have in California make us all safer. They protect victims of crimes and help our police better serve our communities.
“Attorney General Sessions and President Trump cannot force our cities and state to participate in its cruel immigration roundup, and I know that justice will be on the side of those who fight for our immigrant communities.”
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, supported the lawsuit.
“The Trump Administration showed true leadership in its decision to take on our state’s reckless sanctuary laws,” Issa said. “For too long, states like California have been willfully complicit in obstructing the enforcement of our immigration laws. The era of allowing our states to turn a blind eye to federal law and allow illegal immigrants who have committed crimes to remain in our communities is now coming to an end. Gov. Brown and the state of California won’t fight to keep our neighborhoods safe, but I’m glad this administration will.”
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Huntington Beach, said the lawsuit “provides an occasion to confront an issue critical not only to Californians, but to all Americans. That issue — the momentous disruption of the lives and well- being of everyday Americans thrust upon us by illegal immigrants. Our laws have gone unenforced for decades.”
Rohrabacher said the governor and state Attorney General Xavier Becerra have “done nothing helpful to resolve the threat posed by illegal immigration. They have made it more difficult to confront the challenge with their blatant efforts to politicize law enforcement.”
California Democrats “have placed California’s employers in a horrendous situation, mandating that they not voluntarily cooperate with federal immigration officers,” Rohrabacher said.
“They thereby undermine, or at least make it more difficult, to enforce the law and secure our borders. Jeff Sessions is right to rectify this reprehensible mandate.”
Rohrabacher argued that “nonsensical `sanctuary cities’… encourage crime and actually make it more unlikely that immigrants will seek legal entrance to our country.”
Rohrabacher said he is a staunch supporter of states’ rights, noting that he opposes the federal government’s efforts to oppose legalization of marijuana, but, he added, the U.S. Constitution “gives clear authority and supremacy to the federal government over immigration policy.”
Rohrabacher lauded Sessions for “stepping up and trying to restore common sense to the matter of illegal immigration.”
Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens noted that she opposed the state’s law on immigration because she felt it hindered her deputies from communication with federal authorities on “matters that, in my view, are critical to public safety.”
She hopes the lawsuit helps correct that.
“Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ action today gives the court an opportunity to provide legal direction on this issue,” Hutchens said. “My hope is that the court will remove SB 54’s restrictions on communication. Local law enforcement has no desire to enforce immigration law, however, we must have the ability to work with our federal partners to remove dangerous criminals from our community.”
–City News Service
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