California passed a state law defining itself as a “sanctuary state.” This law went into effect on January 1 of this year. However, this is defiant act against U.S. Federal law governing the treatment of illegal immigrants into the United States of America, of which California is still part.
The Trump Administration is not taking this lying down.
On January 16th, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen confirmed that her department asked Federal prosecutors to see if they can criminally charge sanctuary cities for their refusal to follow federal immigration laws.
The California law acts to severely restrict the cooperation that state and local law enforcement is allowed to offer the federal government in executing immigration and deportation laws.
While the US Constitution is arranged to severely restrict the powers of the Federal government, giving the bulk of authority of law to the States or the people of the United States of America (Amendment X), the matter of immigration is a matter that even recently has been held to be in the purview of the Federal government of the United States of America.
As Justice Kennedy wrote in the 2012 decision in Arizona v. United States:
The Government of the United States has broad, undoubted power over the subject of immigration and the status of aliens. … This authority rests, in part, on the National Government’s constitutional power to “establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization,” U. S. Const., Art. I, §8, cl. 4, and its inherent power as sovereign to control and conduct relations with foreign nations….
The really amusing piece of this decision is that it came down from the Supreme Court in response to the Arizona law that increased that state’s authority to prosecute illegal aliens in the state. So here, for many people that supported increased adherence to immigration and deportation statutes, this decision amounted to a disappointment for Arizonans who wanted very strict border control. The Federal government’s authority supersedes the state’s own authority, the decision says, and so the state cannot do what it wants on a matter that the Federal Government is tasked to manage.
The fact that for decades, the Feds have conveniently weakened their execution of the law is not the point. But now, that enforcement is strengthening, and a new state, California, is trying to buck the Feds the other way.
Yet this Supreme Court decision stands and it clearly gives the Federal government the upper hand in this matter.
The presence of Deep State, Obama-appointed operatives in various offices in government may be a monkeywrench thrown in these works. However, it appears that the Secretary of DHS is absolutely on the right track.