Recently, the Trump administration submitted a petition asking the Supreme Court to challenge one of California’s sanctuary state laws. The state currently has a policy that allows local immigration officials not to cooperate with federal agents.
However, the Trump administration’s stance seems to contradict Republicans’ support for states’ rights provisions in the past.
Breaking down California’s sanctuary state laws
In 2017, California put three different policies in place that made it harder for the Trump administration to enact harsher rules regarding illegal immigration. Because of this, the administration wants the Supreme Court to block one law in particular called the California Values Act. The law says local authorities don’t have to comply with federal agents who want their assistance in detaining undocumented immigrants. The law also restricts local authorities from providing information about an individual’s release unless that information was made public.
However, the rule contains some exceptions:
- State officials are allowed to transfer individuals to federal immigration authorities if there is probable cause.
- Immigrants who are found guilty of severe crimes are not legally protected under CVA.
California uses Tenth Amendment in its defense
While the federal government has the authority to prohibit a variety of activities, it cannot order states to enforce federal requests. That’s due to the Anti-Commandeering Doctrine derived from the Tenth Amendment. Because of this philosophy, law enforcement officials in California do not have to comply with federal orders because they would be acting against the best interest of the state.
However, that doesn’t mean undocumented immigrants in California are free from federal detainment. If federal agents want to conduct raids in California, they can do so, but they cannot use any local agents from California.
Administration complains law could “drain federal resources”
The Trump administration says CVA could make it more difficult for federal immigration officials to make arrests, which could make raids more expensive for the federal government. However, many critics say the administration’s argument is not convincing.
While Arizona tried to enforce tighter immigration roundup rules back in 2012, the case in California can remind immigrants there can be some level of protection under local government rules. Undocumented immigrants worried about being detained by federal officials may want to contact an experienced and compassionate immigration law attorney. They can help them understand their rights and assist them in getting citizenship status.