The U.S. Justice Department is taking its fight over sanctuary city status to court, filing a lawsuit challenging laws recently passed in California that are considered some of the most generous protections in the nation for immigrants facing deportation.
Here's a look at what's led up to Wednesday's action:
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has said it will increase its presence in California, and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants to cut off funding to jurisdictions that won't cooperate.
- At issue are three California laws that, among other things, bar police from asking people about their citizenship status or participating in federal immigration enforcement activities. One prohibits employers from letting immigration agents enter worksites or view employee files without a subpoena or warrant, an effort to prevent workplace raids.
- California became a "sanctuary state" on Jan. 1 when a law went into effect barring police from asking people about their immigration status or participating in federal immigration enforcement activities. California is home to an estimated 2.3 million immigrants without legal authorization.
- Under the legislation, police and sheriff's officials, including jail officers, can still work with federal immigration authorities if a person has been convicted of one of about 800 crimes, mostly felonies and misdemeanors that can be charged as felonies. But they are barred from transferring immigrants to federal authorities if their rap sheet includes only minor offenses.
- In January, the Department of Justice asked several cities for documentation that police and sheriff’s deputies are sharing information with federal immigration agents, specifically when asked for information about undocumented migrants in local jails. The cities included Los Angeles and San Francisco as well as Sacramento, San Francisco, and Sonoma counties. If they are found to be out of compliance, they would not be awarded new grants and might be required to return the money they had received.
- ICE has been operating under its 2014 policy that states deportation arrests will be avoided at "sensitive locations," including schools, daycares, hospitals, places of worship, funerals, weddings rallies and public demonstrations. Courthouses have never been part of that list.
- California's Attorney General Xavier Becerra has said the state is "not in the business of deportation. We're in the business of public safety."
- Gov. Jerry Brown mimicked President Trump on Twitter Wednesday as he criticized Sessions for coming to Sacramento "to further divide and polarize America. Jeff, these political stunts may be the norm in Washington, but they don't work here. SAD!!!"
- One of the most public clashes was between ICE officials and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf after she warned of an immigration sweep in advance. ICE said the mayor's actions allowed hundreds of immigrants to elude detention.
- President Trump has proposed a 10- to 12-year track to citizenship for around 1.8 million younger immigrants protected by DACA or eligible for its guarantees in return for $25 billion for border security, including his prized wall. He would end a lottery used to encourage immigration from diverse countries and redistribute some of those visas to applicants with high-skilled jobs. He would also limit relatives that immigrants could sponsor for legal U.S. status to spouses and underage children. Many Democrats oppose such curbs on legal immigration.