The State of California plans to ask that a new Trump administration lawsuit targeting the state's so-called sanctuary laws be moved from Sacramento to the courtroom of a federal judge in San Francisco handling a similar case the state filed against the federal government last year.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra signaled the forthcoming request in a court filing submitted Friday night to U.S. District Court Judge John Mendez, who was assigned to the unusual suit the Justice Department filed Tuesday seeking to invalidate three California laws passed last year that seek to counter aggressive immigration enforcement by the Trump administration.
"Plaintiff’s lawsuit seeks to define the parameters of the federal government’s immigration powers as they relate to the State’s constitutional power to enact and enforce laws concerning public safety. This precise issue is currently the subject of the State of California’s litigation against the federal government in the Northern District of California," Becerra and other California state lawyers wrote. "Accordingly, Defendants intend to file a motion to transfer this matter to the Northern District next week, so that it can be heard with the related case there."
The suit in San Francisco was filed by California last August after the Justice Department sought to step up enforcement of a federal law that seeks to prevent states and local governments from interfering with their employees' communications with federal immigration authorities.
U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick refused the state's request for a preliminary injunction on that issue last week, but the judge questioned the legality of aspects of the administration's position and sounded like he could be persuaded by the state as the case moves forward.
"In fact, the California Values Act’s (“SB 54”) compliance with Section 1373, which is [challenged in the new U.S. suit] is the same exact issue that has been already briefed, and considered, in the Northern District of California case. Defendants’ motion to transfer will be brought on the grounds that in light of the significant overlap in issues and parties. Defendants’ Proposed Briefing Schedule ... between the two cases, transfer to the Northern District of California is appropriate in the interest of justice and to promote judicial economy," Becerra wrote.
Before filing the suit against the state on Tuesday, Justice Department officials were asked if they chose not to bring their case in Los Angeles or San Francisco in order to try to avoid liberal jurists in those courts. The officials replied they were filing the case in Sacramento because it's the state capital.
Mendez is an appointee of President George W. Bush. Orrick is an appointee of President Barack Obama.