The Supreme Court announced Monday it will not hear a challenge to California’s sanctuary laws, therefore allowing the laws to stay in place.
The court, following tradition, did not give a reason for rejecting to hear the case. Two conservative members of the court, Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, said the court should have taken the case.
Sanctuary laws, enforced by state and local authorities throughout the country, prevent local law enforcement from sharing immigration information with federal authorities. Supporters of these provisions argue that they bolster public safety by encouraging undocumented immigrants to report crime and cooperate with law enforcement.
The federal government cannot decide how states interact with federal immigration enforcement, attorneys for California wrote in their legal brief.
“Nothing in federal law precludes states from defining the circumstances under which state and local officials may use state resources to participate in the enforcement of federal immigration law,” the lawyers wrote.
Earlier, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit based in San Francisco ruled that California was not required to use state resources to support federal immigration policy.
“But when questions of federalism are involved, we must distinguish between expectations and requirements. In this context, the federal government was free to expect as much as it wanted, but it could not require California’s cooperation,” Judge Milan Smith Jr. wrote on behalf of a unanimous three-judge panel.
Two other federal courts have agreed with the Ninth Circuit ruling, though the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which encompasses New York, Connecticut, and Vermont, ruled last week that the Justice Department could withhold federal funding from sanctuary jurisdictions.
The Trump administration has consistently criticized sanctuary policies as they frustrate the administration’s harsh stance on immigration enforcement. States should have the authority to decide their own policies, however, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement.
“We’re protecting Californians’ right to decide how we do public safety in our state. The Trump Administration does not have the authority to commandeer state resources. We’re heartened by today’s Supreme Court decision,” Becerra said.
Sources: The New York Times 06/15/20; CNN 06/15/20; Politico 06/15/20; NBC News 06/15/20.