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In defeat for Trump, judge rejects feds’ request to halt SB 54, “Sanctuary State” law, and AB 103

With some worker protections in AB 450 suspended, community groups call on employers to keep workplaces safe; Community leaders; legal experts available for interviews

Today, U.S. District Court Judge John Mendez, a George W. Bush appointee, rejected the Trump administration’s request to temporarily halt SB 54, California’s “Sanctuary State” law, which limits local entanglement with Trump’s deportation force. The judge also refused to freeze another key law, AB 103, which tasks the California Attorney General with monitoring immigration jails. As a result, both SB 54 and AB 103 remain entirely in effect – a defeat for the Trump administration. Judge Mendez also rejected the request to suspend the “employee notice” provision of AB 450, the Immigrant Worker Protection Act.

However, Judge Mendez temporarily suspended three provisions of AB 450, including requiring employers to request a warrant signed by a judge before allowing ICE agents access to private areas of the workplace. Under federal law, employers can still choose to deny ICE access without a warrant.

In response to the ruling, the ICE Out of CA coalition, including Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, California Immigrant Policy Center, National Day Laborer Organizing Network, California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance, SIREN (Services, Immigrant Rights & Education Network), South Bay People Power, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center issued the following statement. The coalition is a statewide alliance which helped pass SB 54, the California Values Act

As the Trump administration continues to expand its cruel and criminalizing deportation machine, today’s ruling represents, overall, a defeat for the President’s hate-filled agenda and escalating abuses of power. With our “Sanctuary State” law fully in effect, police and sheriffs remain limited from acting as deportation agents, and we’ll continue to fight to protect due process for everyone. And with AB 103 also fully in effect, California can continue to shine a light on abuses in immigration jails.

At the same time, we disagree with the court’s decision to suspend certain parts of the Immigrant Worker Protection Act, and we will redouble our commitment to defending the rights of all workers, including immigrants. Every employer in California has a choice. We call upon all employers to exercise their right under federal law to deny ICE agents entry into private areas of the workplace unless they have a warrant.

We will continue to fight for compassion, equality, and our shared humanity.

Background: Last year, California passed several laws to protect residents from the Trump administration’s cruel deportation machine, building on years of inclusive policy-making. Immigrant communities themselves were crucial to these victories. In March, the Trump administration sued to challenge specific sections of three of these pro-immigrant laws. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the suit at a controversial meeting with law enforcement in Sacramento, raising questions about efforts by anti-immigrant forces to influence policy in California. Of note, the suit came weeks after Sessions made comments about the “Anglo-American heritage” of Sheriffs’ offices.

The federal government is only challenging parts of the three laws. Nearly 50 local governments in California and nationwide, plus eight states and Washington, DC, have filed friend-of-the-court briefs in support of California’s position.

SB 54 (de León), also known as the “Sanctuary State” law or the California Values Act, sets a minimum standard across the state to limit local law enforcement from acting as deportation agents. This helps protect due process for everyone, including immigrants. A recent study from the Migration Policy Institute found that “sanctuary” policies like SB 54 have successfully reduced deportations. While an organization designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center has been attempting to orchestrate opposition to SB 54 in certain conservative areas of the state, recent polling has found a solid majority of voters support the “sanctuary state” law. The Trump administration’s previous attacks on “sanctuary” jurisdictions have met a series of defeats in court.

AB 103 challenges the indignity of detention, increasing transparency by requiring the California Attorney General to monitor all detention facilities in the state, which have come under increasing scrutiny for serious abuses. (This is the only provision challenged by the Trump administration.) The law also prohibits the expansion of detention facilities operated by local governments. Profits of private prison companies have skyrocketed under the Trump administration.

The Immigrant Worker Protection Act, AB 450 (Chiu), helps uphold rights for all workers.