‘It’s Time to Stop Playing Politics with Immigrants,’ Says Kamala Harris Over California Lawsuit

The U.S. Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against California over its immigration laws, calling them “unconstitutional.”


Democrat Senator Kamala Harris joined those who have condemned the Trump administration’s lawsuit against the state of California, and released a statement on March. 7, asking the Department of Justice to focus “on real public safety issues, not political stunts.”

She said: “Last night we learned Donald Trump and  (U.S Attorney General) Jeff Sessions are filing a lawsuit against my home state of California for refusing to comply with their anti-immigrant agenda. This is a shameful stunt designed to intimidate California officials and endanger our public safety. It won’t work.”

Noting that no state has more immigrants — documented and undocumented — she said: “We will always fight to uphold the core values of our nation. That means standing up for the idea that America is a nation of immigrants and our diversity makes us a stronger country.”

“They’re counting on us to fight for them” she added.

California is home to 500,000 Indian Americans, of which 18 per cent are undocumented, as per A large percentage of undocumented Indians are senior citizens who have overstayed a tourist visa, or H-1B workers and their dependents who have been unable to adjust their status, AAPI founder and executive director Karthick Ramakrishnan told IndiaWest.

Calling it a vital issue with major impact on the community, he said, “California’s sanctuary state policy has played a major role in pushing undocumented residents towards social and economic inclusion. It has recognized the contributions of immigrants to our society. Anything that the White House does to attack that will have a major impact on the community.”

The Trump administration on March 6 escalated its friction with California over its immigration sanctuary laws by filing a lawsuit against the state, the state’s governor Jerry Brown and attorney general Xavier Becerra. The Justice Department called the three laws — Senate Bill 54, Assembly Bill 450 and Assembly Bill 103 — “unconstitutional” as they make it impossible for federal immigration officials to do their jobs.

The Senate Bill 54, or called the California Values Act, restricts how and when state law enforcement agencies interact with federal immigration authorities. Assembly Bill 450 sets down rules for how employers in companies must handle federal immigration audit requests( I-9 audits). Assembly Bill 103 restricts the ability of jurisdictions to contract with ICE to house immigrant detainees in local jails and gives the state attorney general the power to inspect U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities.

The Trump administration states that these laws have prevented private employers from cooperating with immigration authorities, and has given California the power to regulate federal government.

The lawsuit, filed in Sacramento-based U.S. Eastern District of California, calls for preliminary injunction against these laws. California, on its part, is defiant. California Senate president Kevin de León tweeted: “If U.S. Attorney General Sessions is suing California because we refuse to help (the) Trump administration tear apart hard-working families, I say ‘Jeff Sessions, bring it on because we’re ready in California’”

Governor Jerry Brown, who was named as a defendant in the lawsuit, called the move a “stunt” that is about dividing America. “These laws do not protect criminals. We have millions of people here who are here without papers and some of them have been working for 10, 15, 20 years. They’ve been servicing the economy. A lot of them have been doing the dirty work, whether it’s washing dishes or picking the fruit, and now the attorney general is basically initiating a reign of terror,” the Sacramento Bee quoted him as saying.

The other lawmakers who have called foul on the lawsuit are California’s lieutenant governor Gavin Newsom, former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, state treasurer John Chiang and the current mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti.

State Assembly lawmakers and Kevin de Leon were also present in street protests against U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Trump administration and addressed a press conference in Sacramento on March 7.

Trump is expected to visit California next week.

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