On Wednesday, California Governor Jerry Brown called Attorney General Jeff Sessions a “liar” and suggested that he was addicted to “a Gestapo kind of tactic with vitriol spewing out of Jeff Sessions’ mouth.” Senator Kamala Harris said that Sessions had no credibility to talk about racism; Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf stated that Sessions was a “racist.”
What, exactly, did Sessions do wrong?
He pointed out that the State of California actively impedes investigations into illegal immigration. “A series of actions and events has occurred that directly and adversely impact the work of our federal officers,” Sessions stated, pointing out that Schaaf had leaked information about impending immigration raids in the city. “A refusal to apprehend and deport those, especially the criminal element, effectively rejects all immigration law and creates an open-borders system. Open borders is a radical, irrational idea that cannot be accepted.”
Sessions is exactly right. According to The Washington Post, Schaaf gave a public speech warning illegal immigrants about upcoming ICE raids on Saturday, “less than 24 hours before ICE began arresting dozens of suspected undocumented immigrants across Northern California.” ICE grabbed 232 illegal immigrants, of whom at least 115 had committed another criminal act up to and including felonies. ICE’s Deputy Director Thomas Homan, though, said that “illegal aliens … were able to elude us, thanks to the mayor’s irresponsible decision.”
Schaaf claims that she didn’t obstruct justice because she wasn’t specific about the nature of the raids. But that doesn’t hold water. It’s clear that she was using information garnered through coordination with federal authorities in order to help criminals elude federal law. That’s a difference in kind from normal sanctuary city regulations, which prevent local law enforcement from actively cooperating with federal authorities in the enforcement of immigration law. As Homan stated, “What she did is no better than a gang lookout yelling ‘police’ when a police cruiser comes in the neighborhood, except she did it to a whole community.”
It’s no wonder that Sessions and Trump are seizing on Schaaf’s behavior — it’s the most obvious example of actual violation of the supremacy clause. And it should come with consequences for Schaaf. The Trump administration can’t condition current state funding on ending sanctuary city policy, but they can condition future funding on cities avoiding the inhibition of federal law.
None of this makes Sessions a “liar” or a “racist.” And California is experiencing significant quality of life problems, from a rapid rise in homelessness to unpoliced crime to rising cost of living and government overspending. But Democrats in California would prefer to ignore those problems in favor of labeling those who want borders the real problem.