Trump administration: Moving ‘sanctuary’ lawsuit to San Francisco ‘makes no sense’

- Maret 12, 2018

The Trump administration will oppose efforts to move the federal government’s newly filed lawsuit over California’s so-called sanctuary laws to San Francisco from Sacramento, according to a new court filing.

In a submission to Sacramento-based U.S. District Court Judge John Mendez on Monday, Justice Department lawyers seemed to ridicule the transfer proposal floated last week by attorneys from the office of state Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

“It is remarkable that the State of California would seek to delay this matter primarily so that it can avoid litigating in its State capital. There is no basis to seriously entertain this request that the case be transferred,” Justice Department lawyers wrote. “California’s wish to defend these challenges in another federal judicial district in San Francisco, where the State capital is not located and where the official Defendants do not reside, makes no sense.”

Lawyers from Justice’s Office of Immigration Litigation called the state’s transfer suggestion “meritless,” despite the fact that attorneys for the state have yet to file a formal motion seeking the transfer. In a scheduling filing last Friday, lawyers from Becerra’s office said a transfer to San Francisco would be warranted because a judge there is already considering a case that involves a federal law seeking to prohibit certain local and state policies from preventing cooperation with immigration authorities.

Justice Department attorneys, however, pointed out on Monday that the suit California filed against the federal government last year has to do with the Trump administration’s efforts to condition federal grants on certain immigration-related policies, while the new suit alleges that new California laws are unconstitutional because they interfere with Congress’ attempts to set national immigration policy.

“That case is about the Attorney General’s authority to issue law enforcement grants and the limits on that authority,” the federal lawyers wrote. This case is about whether three California laws violate the Supremacy Clause. Any overlap between the cases is minimal, and limited to just certain arguments concerning one of the three laws challenged here.”

In the new filing, the Justice Department also asserted that Gov. Jerry Brown and Becerra — both named as defendants in the new suit — “can hardly argue that it is more convenient for them and their employees to travel some 90 miles to San Francisco rather than walk a few city blocks to this courthouse for proceedings.”

Just a day before the Trump administration filed suit in Sacramento last week, the judge handling the San Francisco case — U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick — rejected the state’s request for a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the federal law targeting sanctuary policies.

However, the state appears to prefer to have the new suit heard by Orrick, who issued both preliminary and permanent injunctions blocking enforcement of an early executive order from President Donald Trump that appeared to seek to limit the flow of federal funds to jurisdictions with sanctuary policies.

Orrick was appointed by President Barack Obama. Mendez, the judge who was assigned the suit filed in Sacramento last Tuesday, is an appointee of President George W. Bush.


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