Legal Actions taken by the Department of Justice
City and County of San Francisco v. Trump. On March 22 and 29 2017, Attorney General Becerra filed friend-of-the-court briefs in the related cases City and County of San Francisco v. Trump, et al. and County of Santa Clara v. Trump et al. supporting challenges to President Trump's threats to broadly defund states, counties, and cities the Administration deems to be "sanctuary jurisdictions." In one set of briefs, Attorney General Becerra's highlighted California's interest in protecting state laws and policies that promote public safety and protect the constitutional rights of residents. After the submission of that brief, on April 25, 2017, a federal judge issued a ruling that put a temporary nationwide halt on the federal government's ability to enforce its threat to block cities that do not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement from receiving federal funds. The Trump Administration then made another attempt to implement the Executive Order under a more narrow interpretation, and sought to dismiss the lawsuits. On June 28, Attorney General Becerra led nine states and Washington DC in filing another friend-of-the-court brief supporting San Francisco, Santa Clara, and the City of Richmond's opposition to these new efforts by the Administration to revive the Executive Order. In that brief, Attorney General Becerra highlighted the public safety interest that jurisdictions have in adopting policies that define the role that local law enforcement officials may play in enforcement of federal immigration laws, and argued that the Executive Order still violates the U.S. Constitution even under the Administration's more narrow interpretation. On July 20, the court rebuffed the Trump Administration's arguments and kept in place the temporary injunction blocking implementation of the Executive Order sanctuary jurisdiction provisions.
Five-Year Prison Sentence for Oswaldo Cabrera. On February 22, 2017, the California Attorney General announced that Oswaldo Rafael Cabrera, the owner and operator of a Los Angeles-based business known as the Coalición Latinoamericana Internacional (CLI), was sentenced to five years and two months in state prison (en Español) after pleading guilty to felony charges involving grand theft, attempted perjury and conspiracy to violate the Immigration Consultants Act. Cabrera’s wife, Maria Marcelina Rodas, was sentenced to three years of felony probation for charges that she conspired to violate the Immigration Consultants Act. In December 2016, the Attorney General’s Office filed criminal charges and obtained arrest warrants against Cabrera and Rodas (en Español). The criminal complaint charged Cabrera with 22 felony counts including grand theft, attempted perjury and conspiracy to engage in the unlawful practice of law.
Jennings v. Rodriguez. On February 10, 2017, Attorney General Becerra, along with the state attorneys general from Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in Jennings v Rodriguez, a case involving the federal government’s authority to detain non-citizens pending completion of their removal proceedings. In the brief, the states argue that they have a strong interest in ensuring that individuals who are neither dangerous nor a flight risk are not detained while they seek to establish a legal right to remain in the United States. A Supreme Court decision has not yet been issued in this matter.
J.E.F.M v, Lynch. On March 11, 2016, the California Attorney General joined the Washington Attorney General in filing a friend-of-the-court brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the case J.E.F.M v, Lynch, to ensure that every unaccompanied minor placed in immigration proceedings is guaranteed a right to counsel.
State of Texas, et al. v. United States of America. The California Attorney General has been a vigorous champion of President Obama's November 2014 executive actions on immigration, which include an expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the creation of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program. On February 16, 2015, Texas and 25 other states obtained a nationwide preliminary injunction enjoining the start of these executive actions on immigration. The federal government appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal and on March 12, 2015 California, and the Attorneys General from 13 other states and the District of Columbia filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the U.S. government’s emergency request that President Barack Obama’s immigration executive actions be allowed to move forward. On November 9, 2015, the Fifth Circuit, in 2-1 decision, affirmed the preliminary injunction blocking the President’s executive actions. On December 4, 2015, the California Attorney General joined 14 other states and the District of Columbia in a friend-of-the-court brief, in the case of United States v. Texas, supporting the U.S. Department of Justice’s request for the U.S. Supreme Court to review a lower court’s decision and allow President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration to move forward. On March 8, 2016, California joined 15 other states and the District of Columbia in a friend-of-the-court brief in the case of United States v. Texas, urging the Supreme Court to reverse an injunction upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. On June 23, 2016, the Supreme Court’s ruling in Texas v. U.S. sent the case back to the lower court, maintaining a freeze on President Obama’s deferred action programs, and on October 3, 2016, the Supreme Court decided not to rehear the case.
State of Arizona et al., v. United States of America. On March 27, 2012, the California Attorney General along with the attorneys general of New York, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Supreme Court arguing against Arizona’s illegal immigration legislation.
Challenging Trump's Travel Ban
Attorney General Becerra has been an active participant in the fight against the President Trump's attempt to fulfill his campaign promises to prohibit Muslims from entering the United States. He joined friend-of-the-court briefs, at all levels of the federal court system, in numerous legal challenges to the initial travel ban and the revised travel ban. He also filed suit against the revised travel ban as a plaintiff, along with several other States.
Background: The President initially issued an executive order banning nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries from traveling to the United States. After losing numerous court battles, President Trump issued a revised executive order, but failed to cure key constitutional deficiencies. Two federal district courts entered nationwide preliminary injunctions against the second travel ban. Both of these injunctions were upheld by the federal courts of appeal, including the Fourth Circuit, which stated that the second travel ban order "drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination." The Supreme Court will review these decisions in the fall. Both of the travel bans were challenged on various constitutional and statutory grounds, including the Free Exercise Clause, the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses, and the Immigration and Nationality Act.
State of Washington v. Trump. On March 13, 2017, California joined in a lawsuit, originally brought by the State of Washington, challenging President Trump's second unconstitutional and un-American travel ban order, which attempts to restrict immigration from six predominantly Muslim countries. This lawsuit, which was also joined by Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, and Oregon, alleges that the revised travel ban violates the United States Constitution, as well as various statues. In particular, the complaint alleges that the second travel ban, like the first travel ban order, violates fundamental guarantees of equal protection, due process, and religious freedom. This lawsuit seeks to protect California and other States – including our residents, employers, hospitals, and educational institutions – against illegal actions of the President and the federal government. Before joining as a party, on February 6, 2017, Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in this case. That appeal lead to a unanimous decision upholding the district court's preliminary injunction of the first travel ban.
State of Hawaii v. Trump. In this action, brought by the State of Hawaii and an individual plaintiff, the district court entered a nationwide preliminary injunction blocking the revised travel ban. The Ninth Circuit affirmed that injunction, and that decision will be reviewed by the Supreme Court in the fall. Attorney General Becerra has joined multistate amicus briefs supporting the plaintiffs in this case in the district court, before the Ninth Circuit, and in the Supreme Court. Most recently, in July 2017, Attorney General Becerra joined a coalition of 17 states filing an amicus brief supporting Hawaii and urging the district court to enforce its injunction, after the federal government advanced a narrow and untenable interpretation of the terms of the injunction. Under the federal government's interpretation, for example, grandparents do not qualify as "close family members." The district court ruled in Hawaii's favor, and the federal government is appealing.
International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump. In this action, brought by private plaintiffs and organizations, a federal district-court judge in Maryland issued a preliminary injunction blocking the revised travel ban from going into effect. The Fourth Circuit affirmed that injunction, and the Supreme Court will review that decision in the fall. Attorney General Becerra joined multistate amicus briefs supporting the plaintiffs in the Fourth Circuit and in the Supreme Court.
Darweesh vs. Trump. On February 16, 2017, Attorney General Xavier Becerra joined a multistate amicus brief in this case in the Eastern District of New York, supporting the plaintiffs' efforts to obtain injunctive relief regarding the first travel ban.
Aziz v. Trump. On February 8, 2017, Attorney General Xavier Becerra joined a multistate amicus brief in the Eastern District of Virginia this case challenging the first travel ban. The brief supported the plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction.