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An Imminent Lawsuit for California

Updated: Mar 12, 2018  | Tags: USA Visa, ESTA


The Trump administration's opposition to sanctuary cities continues apace. News reports have been building throughout the first week of March to the effect that Jeff Sessions, the current Attorney General of the USA, is planning on suing California over its sanctuary city laws. Sanctuary cities are well known for the fact that they protect undocumented immigrants from laws and enforcement officials that are hostile to them and so these new reports are making USA immigration news headlines across the world. Reports suggest that Sessions' sights are set on attacking Sacramento, CA, one of nearly 500 sanctuary cities in the US. However, if he is successful, it is likely that he will then use this as a precedent to attack other cities. If Sacramento is successful in fighting Sessions' attack (and this is by no means the first time that the Trump Administration has unsuccessfully attempted to weaken the status of sanctuary cities across the nation), other sanctuary cities are sure to be bolstered by this. 

Sanctuary city laws: how these cities protect those who are in the country without a USA visa or ESTA authentification

Each sanctuary city is individual, but they are all united by a broad aim: preventing undocumented immigrants in the USA from living in fear of deportation or the breakup of their families. As such, the authorities in sanctuary cities only co-operate in a very limited fashion with law enforcement and USA immigration officials. The municipal authorities in sanctuary cities do not, as a matter of course, share data that they possess regarding the legal status of migrants living in the city. By refusing to do so, they make it difficult for law enforcement and USA immigration authorities to identify people that they could deport or detain, and as a result the aim is that (though major inequalities between documented and undocumented individuals still exist) all those dwelling in the sanctuary city can live and work on a much more equal and peaceful footing.

More details of this USA visa news item: the three laws Sessions plans to attack

Early USA immigration news reports suggest that Sessions wants to attack three of the key laws that Sacramento upholds as part of its status as a sanctuary city. The Justice Department has already confirmed that this is their intention. The three laws are as follows:

  • A law preventing private employers in the state from co-operating with USA immigration officers. If they are found to be doing so, they can face a fine of up to $10,000.
  • A law preventing federal law enforcement officials from notifying national immigration officials as to when they plan on releasing an undocumented individual from jail or other detention.
  • A law that gives the state, rather than national government officials, power to inspect the state's immigration detention centres.

It is clear that Sessions' aim here is to weaken California's status as a safer haven for undocumented immigrants. The Justice Department has intimated that the first move will take the form of a temporary block, i.e. the Attorney General will aim to get a judge to pass a court order that temporarily prevents Californian officials from enforcing the three laws listed above. However, it is likely that his more long term aim is to permanently overturn the three laws. It is also a given that California will fight his attempts to weaken Sacramento's status as a sanctuary city. Sanctuary cities are widely supported up and down the nation, as cities that help to keep families together (where some family members are documented and others have no documents, the family can be at risk of being split up by deportation) and that show the respect that all individuals living in the city are due as human beings, regardless of the status of their documents. Sanctuary cities are based around the principle that all human beings have the right to live and work peacefully and without fear, and to build a solid family, whether they have a USA visa or not. 

When will new developments be announced

This looks like it will be a key news story throughout March and April, so make sure to follow the news for new updates. Sessions visited Sacramento on March 7th and as we move through the month there will likely be a set of announcements and press releases regarding court rulings, and appeals by one side against a ruling in favour of the other. We are always up to date with the latest ESTA news, so if you want to know anything about USA visa or ESTA related developments, be sure to keep on checking out our site for new snippets of visa and ESTA news.