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Sessions escalates Calif. immigration feud

  • California Gov. Jerry Brown is greeted by children as he walks through the Capitol with California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, left, to hold a news conference in response to remarks made U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Wednesday, March 7, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli) Rich Pedroncelli

  • U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions addresses the California Peace Officers' Association 26th Annual Law Enforcement Legislative Day, 7, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. The Trump administration on Tuesday sued to block California laws that extend protections to people living in the U.S. illegally. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli) Rich Pedroncelli

  • Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf gestures while speaking during a media conference on Wednesday, March 7, 2018, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) Ben Margot

  • Demonstrators block traffic in front of the hotel where U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was speaking to the California Peace Officers Association meeting, Wednesday, March 7, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. California Gov. Jerry Brown denounced Sessions for coming to the state to speak about a lawsuit targeting policies that limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities, saying Wednesday it was unprecedented for him to "act more like Fox News than a law enforcement officer." (AP Photo/Jonathan J. Cooper) Jonathan J. Cooper

  • California Gov. Jerry Brown, right, accompanied by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, responds to remarks made U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Wednesday, March 7, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli) Rich Pedroncelli

  • U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions addresses the California Peace Officers' Association at the 26th Annual Law Enforcement Legislative Day, Wednesday, March 7, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. Sessions told law enforcement officers at the conference Wednesday that the Justice Department sued California because state laws are preventing federal immigration agents from doing their jobs. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli) Rich Pedroncelli

  • California Gov. Jerry Brown, left, accompanied by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, responds to remarks made U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Wednesday, March 7, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli) Rich Pedroncelli

  • Graduate student Steven Lynn holds up a sign during a protest against U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was speaking to the California Peace Officer Association meeting, Wednesday, March 7, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. California Gov. Jerry Brown denounced Sessions for coming to the state to speak about a lawsuit targeting policies that limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities, saying Wednesday it was unprecedented for him to "act more like Fox News than a law enforcement officer." (AP Photo/Jonathan J. Cooper) Jonathan J. Cooper

  • Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf listens to a question from a reporter during a media conference on Wednesday, March 7, 2018, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) Ben Margot



Associated Press
Wednesday, March 07, 2018

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions brought the Trump administration’s feud with California to the doorstep of the state Capitol on Wednesday, suing over its so-called sanctuary state law and dramatically escalating a war with the liberal powerhouse in a sharp exchange of words with Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.

Sessions was defiant as he spoke to local law enforcement officials about the lawsuit, citing a series of California laws that he says are unconstitutional and violate common sense.

“I can’t sit by idly while the lawful authority of federal officers are being blocked by legislative acts and politicians,” he said, straying from his prepared remarks.

Brown didn’t hold back in his response, calling Sessions a liar and saying it was unprecedented for the attorney general to “act more like Fox News than a law enforcement officer.” He accused Sessions of “going to war” with California to appease President Donald Trump.

“What Jeff Sessions said is simply not true and I call upon him to apologize to the people of California for bringing the mendacity of Washington to California,” the governor told reporters.

The lawsuit is the latest salvo in an escalating feud between the Trump administration and California, which has resisted the president on issues from marijuana policy to climate change and defiantly refuses to help federal agents detain and deport immigrants. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has said it will increase its presence in California, and Sessions wants to cut off funding to jurisdictions that won’t cooperate.

The governor and state Attorney General Javier Becerra, who has sued the Trump administration numerous times, held a news conference just blocks from where Sessions spoke at a hotel, but they never interacted.

Sessions also used his speech to sharply criticize Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf for warning the public about an unannounced raid by federal deportation officers recently in California. Sessions said it allowed hundreds of “wanted criminals” to avoid arrest.

“How dare you?” Sessions said of Schaaf at a California Peace Officers Association meeting in Sacramento. “How dare you needlessly endanger the lives of law enforcement just to promote your radical open borders agenda?”

Schaaf repeated the refrain to slam Sessions for tearing apart families and lying about declining violent crime in a “sanctuary city” like Oakland.

“How dare you vilify members of our community by trying to frighten the American public into believing that all undocumented residents are dangerous criminals?” she told reporters.

Sessions received a polite if not warm reception from law enforcement officials, even when he told them his goal was to make their jobs safer. They applauded politely as he was introduced and after his speech, and more than a dozen gave a standing ovation at the end in a room of about 200 officials.

But many sat expressionless, some listening with arms crossed or chins on their folded hands, and his 25-minute speech was never interrupted by applause or protest.

Outside, dozens of demonstrators chanted “stand up, fight back” and “no justice, no peace” and some blocked traffic on a major thoroughfare. There was a heavy police presence but no arrests.