US Appeals Court Upholds Most of California’s ‘Sanctuary’ Laws

April 19, 2019by Maura Dolan
A view of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on June 12, 2017 in San Francisco, California. A ruling from a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled against U.S. President Donald Trump's revised executive order limiting travel from six predominately Muslim countries. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/TNS) *FOR USE WITH THIS STORY ONLY*

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court decided unanimously Thursday that most of California’s so-called sanctuary laws can continue to be enforced, rejecting the bulk of a lawsuit brought by the Trump administration.

The decision, authored by a Republican appointee on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, was a sweeping victory for California. The court’s only concern about the legality of the three sanctuary laws was that no costs should be imposed on the federal government.

The three-judge panel refused to block the centerpiece of the sanctuary package — a law that prohibits police and sheriff’s officials from notifying federal immigration authorities of the release dates of immigrant inmates.

That law “may well frustrate the federal government’s immigration enforcement efforts,” Judge Milan D. Smith Jr., who was appointed by President George W. Bush, wrote for the court. “However, whatever the wisdom of the underlying policy adopted by California, that frustration is permissible.”

The court also upheld a law that requires employers to notify workers of inspections by immigration agents.

The court said the law did “not treat the federal government worse than anyone else; indeed, it does not regulate federal operations at all.”

But the court agreed with the Trump administration that the state, in inspecting federal detention centers, cannot impose requirements on the federal government that will force it to spend money.

Specifically, the federal appeals court cited a provision that allows California to examine the circumstances surrounding the apprehension and transfer of immigrants in federal centers.

“Only those provisions that impose an additional economic burden exclusively on the federal government are invalid,” the court said.

The Trump administration sued California in March 2018 to invalidate the three sanctuary laws.

U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez, also appointed by Bush, previously upheld most of the package of laws. He rejected only a provision that established fines for private employers who voluntarily allow immigration agents to visit workplaces.

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©2019 Los Angeles Times

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