The U.S. Justice Department will file a lawsuit against the state of California alleging it is interfering with the enforcement of federal immigration laws, escalating a long-simmering battle over “sanctuary” policies that try to protect illegal immigrants against deportation, senior department officials said Tuesday.
The lawsuit, to be filed sometime late Tuesday in federal court in Sacramento, the California state capital, will take aim at three state laws passed last year that the Justice Department contends violate a clause in the U.S. Constitution.
The issue of illegal immigrants has become increasingly heated since Donald Trump became president last year and signaled that he planned to target a wider swath of people for deportation.
Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has made combating illegal immigration one of his top priorities since taking over the helm of the Justice Department in February 2017. A key part of that effort involves a crackdown on primarily Democrat-governed cities and states that Sessions claims are “sanctuaries” that protect illegal immigrants from deportation.
Sessions is expected to formally announce the lawsuit, which will name as defendants the state of California, Governor Jerry Brown and the state’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, during a speech on Wednesday morning in Sacramento.
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