The Trump administration has filed a lawsuit to overturn California's sanctuary policies that protect immigrants in the US illegally.
The lawsuit was filed late Tuesday. It says three state laws undermine federal immigration laws.
The Justice Department says the laws are unconstitutional and block federal agents from doing their jobs.
California refuses to help federal agents detain and deport immigrants in the following ways:
- Barring police from asking people about their citizenship status
- Prohibiting employers from allowing immigration agents to enter worksites or view employee files without a subpoena or warrant
- Stopping local governments from contracting with for-profit companies and ICE to hold immigrants
"The Department of Justice and the Trump administration are going to fight these unjust, unfair and unconstitutional policies that have been imposed on you," US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. "I believe that we are going to win."
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement that California "has chosen to purposefully contradict the will and responsibility of Congress to protect our homeland."
California's leaders remain defiant.
"I say: Bring it on," said California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles Democrat who wrote the so-called sanctuary state bill.
And California's Gov. Jerry Brown mocked President Trump on Twitter by mimicking him. Brown criticized Sessions for coming to Sacramento "to further divide and polarize America. Jeff, these political stunts may be the norm in Washington, but they don't work here. SAD!!!"
At a time of unprecedented political turmoil, Jeff Sessions has come to California to further divide and polarize America. Jeff, these political stunts may be the norm in Washington, but they don’t work here. SAD!!!
— Jerry Brown (@JerryBrownGov) March 7, 2018
Speaking to California law enforcement Wednesday, Sessions said California's stance is similar to southern states' resistance to federal integration policies during the Civil Rights era.
"There is no nullification. There is no secession," he said. "Federal law is the supreme law of the land. I would invite any doubters to Gettysburg, and to the graves of John C. Calhoun and Abraham Lincoln."
He also said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf risked the lives of peace officers when she warned that immigration raids were coming.
"How dare you. How dare you. How dare you needlessly endanger the lives of law enforcement just to promote your radical open borders agenda," he said.
This story was compiled from Associated Press material and other sources.