Why the Judge Upheld California’s ‘Sanctuary State’ Law

CAL MATTERS-A federal judge’s decision Thursday upholding California’s so-called sanctuary policy is a significant victory for the state’s authority to govern its own affairs. 

Remind me:U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions came to Sacramento in March to announce the Trump administration was suing to invalidate three state laws approved last year to limit cooperation with federal efforts to deport undocumented immigrants. 

U.S. District Judge John Mendez struck down one law that restricted business owners from helping Immigration and Customs Enforcement. But he upheld two others, including the centerpiece, Senate Bill 54 by Sen. Kevin de León, a Los Angeles Democrat. 

Mendez ruled that the 10th Amendment bars Uncle Sam from commandeering state and local authorities to do the feds’ job: 

Without state and local law enforcement assistance, feds may have a tougher time enforcing immigration law. But “standing aside does not equate to standing in the way.” 

Mendez briefly:The San Leandro native went to Stanford and Harvard law school. President George H.W. Bush appointed him U.S. attorney in San Francisco in 1992. President George W. Bush appointed him to the federal bench in Sacramento in 2008. 

In his 60-page opinion dated July 4, Mendez said he was expressing no view on the soundness of the state policy but did urge President Trump and Congress to set aside “polarizing politics” and solve the immigration issue. 

P.S.Eric Holder, President Barack Obama’s first attorney general, helped write the main sanctuary law and filed a brief urging Mendez to uphold it. 

(Dan Morain, former editorial page editor and political affairs columnist at The Sacramento Bee, is bringing his decades of experience and institutional knowledge to CALmatters where this was first posted.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.