Jerry Brown and Xavier Becerra, the state's attorney general, for passing and enforcing its sanctuary laws, which place sharp limits on how local law enforcement agencies can communicate with federal immigration authorities.
A senior Department of Justice official said they targeted California because the laws recently went into effect, but said they are reviewing laws in other states, too.
"California, we have a problem", he began his speech, describing new laws that prevent state cooperation with federal immigration agents as "harmful to Californians" and "especially harmful to our law enforcement". The lawsuit is the latest salvo in an escalating feud between the Trump administration and California, which has resisted the president on issues from taxes to marijuana policy and defiantly refuses to help federal agents detain and deport immigrants.
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Earlier on Wednesday Mr Sessions told a group of law enforcement officers that "California is using every power it has - and some it doesn't - to frustrate federal law enforcement".
The third is SB54, known as law of Sanctuary State, which prohibits all California security forces from sharing information with immigration if it is not a court order. And I think we're going to win. "Neither should the Trump administration".
Last week, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf warned the public about a pending ICE operation, telling immigrants that they don't have to open their doors for federal immigration agents if they don't have a warrant. He also said that he spoke with former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on possible responses to the DOJ's lawsuit, and said that Legislature will have a response later today.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) wants to increase its presence in California, and Sessions has threatened to cut off federal funding to jurisdictions that won't cooperate. Jerry Brown passed a "sanctuary state" law previous year.
"So here's my message to Mayor Schaaf", Sessions added.
The lawsuit would block California laws that extend protections to people in the United States without documentation. California officials consistently have sought to stymie Trump's efforts to impose policies incompatible with the more permissive vision of the state's leaders and the liberal leanings of its electorate. Jeff, these political stunts may be the norm in Washington, but they don't work here.
Gov. Jerry Brown tweeted Sessions' visit will only "further divide and polarize America" while Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state won't be "bullied" by the Trump Administration.
"Look, we know the Trump administration is full of liars", he said.
In response to this sanctuary state law, the Trump administration had made a decision to bring the state into court, suing Democratic Gov.