Judges skeptical of lawsuit over California immigration law

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A U.S. appeals court appeared inclined Wednesday to reject a request by the Trump administration to block a California law that limits police cooperation with federal immigration officials.

But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals raised concerns about another state law extending protections to people in the country illegally. The Trump administration has sued California over three laws, saying they obstruct federal immigration efforts and urging the 9th Circuit to block them.

Judge Milan Smith said at a hearing that U.S. officials might find it frustrating that local authorities can’t help them take custody of people in the country illegally.

But “because it’s an obstacle doesn’t mean it’s illegal, right?” he asked an attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice.

Judge Andrew Hurwitz said the state law doesn’t allow local officials to interfere with federal efforts to take immigrants into custody, it just forbids them from “affirmatively helping.”

“They’re not required to be helpful, are they?” he asked.

Smith and another judge on the three-judge panel, however, expressed concerns about another state law requiring inspections of facilities where immigrants are detained. The panel did not immediately issue a ruling.

More than 50 immigrant advocates protested outside the federal courthouse during the hearing, some holding signs saying “ICE out of California,” referring to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The Trump administration’s 2018 lawsuit was part of its broader efforts to crack down on so-called sanctuary jurisdictions that it says allow criminals to stay on the streets.

California officials say their policies promote trust between immigrant communities and law enforcement and encourage witnesses and victims to report crime.


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