Attorney General Jeff Sessions brought his war against California’s immigration enforcement policies right into the lair of his enemies today, accusing state officials and especially Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf of risking the lives of ICE personnel. Sessions made his fiery remarks at a law enforcement conference in Sacramento. His Department of Justice had just filed suit against Governor Jerry Brown and Attorney General Xavier Becerra to strike down California’s so-called “sanctuary state” law that protects the prerogatives of local law enforcement officials to limit cooperation with federal immigration enforcement when it interferes with their own enforcement priorities. Sessions also took a swing at Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, the front-running candidate to succeed Brown as governor, for defending Schaaf, as the Los Angeles Times reports:
[T]he mayor of Oakland has been actively seeking to help illegal aliens avoid apprehension by ICE. Her actions support those who flout our laws and boldly validate the illegality. There’s no other way to interpret her remarks.
To make matters worse, the elected lieutenant governor of this state praised her for doing so. Bragging about and encouraging the obstruction of our law enforcement and the law is an embarrassment to this proud and important state.
Then Sessions really got on his high horse:
So here’s my message to Mayor Schaaf: How dare you. How dare you needlessly endanger the lives of law enforcement just to promote your radical open-borders agenda.
Brown responded at a press conference today by denouncing Sessions’s description of California’s policies as indicative of an administration “full of liars”:
Look, we know the Trump administration is full of liars, they’ve pleaded guilty already to the special counsel … Under the laws of California, nothing stops the federal government from coming to a jail. The release records are public. In many ways, there are many layers of protections. And what Jeff Sessions said is simply not true. And I call upon him to apologize to the people of California, to bringing the mendacity of Washington to California. And trying to insert discord and division and, I might add, dysfunctionality in a state that’s really working. So let’s build some bridges, not walls.
It’s been clear for a while that the White House thinks “sanctuary cities” are the soft underbelly of pro-immigrant sentiment in the country. As Dara Lind explains, invading California with attacks on the alleged lawlessness of the evil liberals who run the Golden State fits in with the broader Trumpite project. And said liberals are more than happy to fight back:
Politically speaking, it’s the next phase in a battle the Trump administration and California are equally enthusiastic about having: an ongoing culture war between progressive politicians who feel a duty to make their immigrant residents feel as safe as possible, and an administration (and its backers) whose stated policy is that no unauthorized immigrant should feel safe.
And to add a personal note to this particular exchange of angry rhetoric, Libby Schaaf is close to Jerry Brown: She served as a special assistant to Brown when he was mayor of Oakland, and gained a key endorsement from him when she ran for the post herself.
So it’s no surprise Brown took umbrage at Sessions coming to California to speak to an elected official and protégé — a woman, at that — like an Alabama sheriff lowering the boom on a Yankee agitator.
You shouldn’t expect this dialogue, so to speak, to get friendlier any time soon.