In a new interview with NPR All Things Considered, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra discusses — clearly and persuasively — the implications of the lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice against California’s immigration policies and doubles down on the state’s safety first policies:
…We’re simply doing what the 10th Amendment allows every state to do. And that’s to determine how it will provide public safety for all of its residents. We leave immigration enforcement to the federal government. And we don’t want to be coerced into trying to do the federal government’s job.
The entire interview is worth the listen – excerpted below or available online in full here.
KELLY: Let me ask you this, though. This matter of state versus federal jurisdiction over immigration law – as you know, it went all the way up to the Supreme Court in 2012 with Arizona v. the United States. And the Supreme Court mostly ruled in favor of the feds, citing the Constitution. The reasoning was, you can’t have every state setting its own immigration policy. It’s just unworkable.
BECERRA: And that’s absolutely correct. Arizona was trying to set immigration policy, which the states don’t have the right or the power to do. That’s left to the federal government.
KELLY: How is what you’re trying to do different?
BECERRA: We didn’t enact immigration laws. We enacted laws regarding our public safety. And so we wanted to make sure that we could move forward with providing for the public safety of Californians and their privacy interests, not immigration.
BECERRA: Attorney General Sessions is confusing cooperation with coercion. We in California allow the federal immigration officers to do what they must do to enforce immigration law. But the federal government doesn’t have the right to ask California – or to tell California to do immigration enforcement for it.
KELLY: Another thing, though, that Attorney General Sessions has argued is that this is – that California’s policies are making the jobs less safe for federal agents, for ICE agents. Let me play you another bit of what he said today and let you respond to this.
SESSIONS: And rather than allow ICE officers to do their jobs with the transfers at the jailhouse, they force our officers to conduct more dangerous arrests elsewhere, where violent criminals may reside and where children can be caught in a crossfire.
KELLY: What’s your response to that?
BECERRA: That’s absolutely untrue. ICE agents are, in California or anywhere else, permitted to go in to arrest and detain anyone whom they’ve got a basis to do so with. We don’t get in the way of that.
KELLY: But are the current California laws and policies putting federal officers in danger?
BECERRA: In most cases, or oftentimes, those federal immigration officers are working side by side with state and local law enforcement officers. We’re not interested in putting anyone’s life in jeopardy. In that case, Attorney General Sessions’ statements are not only untrue but dangerous.