On Wednesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was in Sacramento to comment on the lawsuit his Justice Department filed in federal court seeking injunctive relief against three California laws that impede the federal government’s enforcement of U.S. immigration law.
Sessions’s presence in the Golden State was acknowledged by Gov. Jerry Brown, who at a press conference at the state Capitol accused the AG of “initiating a reign of terror” against immigrants in California, adding, “It’s not wise, it’s not right and it will not stand.”
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra was also on hand to defend the laws, dismissing the suit as nothing more than a “political stunt.”
The tug of war over whether states can pass legislation that supersedes federal immigration law is nothing new. The question has been tested before — in California.
As The Weekly Standard’s Steve Hayes observed last night on Fox News Channel’s “Special Report with Bret Baier,” in 1994 a ballot initiative was introduced in the California legislature that would have established a state-run citizenship screening system to prohibit illegal aliens from using non-emergency health care, public education, and other services. The proposal, known as Proposition 187 or the Save Our State initiative, had the support of the left-leaning Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. It was ultimately challenged and found unconstitutional by a federal district court.
Hayes’s commentary can be seen in the video that follows, beginning at the 30:13 mark.
But California isn’t the only state to test its muscle on the issue of illegal immigrants. More recently, Arizona attempted to launch a major crackdown on illegals, prompting another attorney general to file a lawsuit of his own, declaring:
Setting immigration policy and enforcing immigration laws is a national responsibility. Seeking to address the issue through a patchwork of state laws will only create more problems than it solves.
That attorney general’s name was Eric Holder.
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