A federal judge blocked one of three California sanctuary laws on Thursday, dealing the first blow in the Trump’s administration’s legal fight against the state’s policies it says shield illegal aliens from federal immigration authorities.
John Mendez of U.S. District Court in Sacramento issued an injunction that bars California officials from imposing fines of up to $10,000 on employers who grant immigration officials access to a private workplace or to employment records.
U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Devin O’Malley called the ruling blocking the fines a “major victory for private employers in California who are no longer prevented from cooperating with legitimate enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws.”
Mendez declined to block two other state measures aimed at thwarting cooperation with Washington’s crackdown on illegal immigration.
California Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, signed into law in October measures that, among other things, prevent police from inquiring about immigration status and limiting ways in which state and local police departments can cooperate with immigration officers.
The law extended to the entire state protections for illegal immigrants that exist in several so-called sanctuary cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco.
President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have both decried sanctuary-city policies, saying that they lead to the release of violent criminals and thwart federal authorities’ attempts to enforce the law.
Mendez also rebuked lawmakers, saying that the immigration issue could not ultimately be settled in the courts and said elected leaders needed to put aside differences and forge legislation. Trump has repeatedly called on the Democrats to come to the table and solve the illegal immigration crisis.
The Justice Department had sued California in March, taking aim at three laws that the administration said violated the U.S. Constitution and seeking an injunction in each case. Even though the judge declined to block two of the measures, the Department of Justice will continue to fight “unjust policies that threaten public safety,” O’Malley said in a statement.