U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Wednesday morning in Sacramento, “Federal law is the supreme law of the land,” a day after the federal government sued California over state laws that it alleges interfere with immigration enforcement.
Sessions told a gathering of the California Peace Officers Association:
“I would invite any doubters to go to Gettysburg. … This matter has been settled.”
In addition to referencing one of the most famous battles of the Civil War, Sessions called on the state to “stop treating immigration agents differently from everybody else” for the purpose of frustrating federal immigration enforcement and advancing a pro-immigrant, “open borders” policy that he described as radical and irrational.
During his lengthy speech, Sessions bemoaned the changing demographics of the nation, saying that the percentage of “non-native born” residents is rising, and will soon reach the highest point in history.
He specifically called out Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf over her decision to alert the immigrant community of impending mass detentions in which Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials detained at least 232 of their roughly 1,100 targets throughout Northern California, accusing Schaaf of compromising the safety of federal agents.
“How dare you? How dare you needlessly endanger the lives of our law enforcement officers to promote a radical open borders agenda?”
He stated that sanctuary city and state policies in California directly and adversely affect the efforts of federal law enforcement officials to reduce the numbers of immigrants living here, a fact not lost on the politicians who enacted and continue to support those policies.
San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell said in a statement:
“This morning, United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions came into our state and attacked our values, our policies and our people. In response to this stunt, I want my message to be clear to Attorney General Sessions: your threats will not change who we are. We will not be intimidated.”
“No matter how hard the federal administration tries to export their politics of fear, we will remain a city of love and compassion. We will remain a Sanctuary City.”
Schaaf, for her part, retweeted an infographic from January pointing out that despite Oakland’s Sanctuary City status, violent crime has steadily declined over the last five years. She has planned a news conference shortly before noontime to provide further comment.
Sessions also made an appeal to local law enforcement officers, apparently soliciting their support regardless of the positions taken by elected leaders in their communities.
“We are fighting to make your job safe. We intend to win this fight. You can be sure about this: We have your back.”
Former federal prosecutor and current San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo pushed back against that in a statement issued shortly after Session’s speech, saying trust of local law enforcement is critical to maintaining public safety:
“Police chiefs of major cities throughout the nation agree that we critically need to ensure every resident — regardless of status — will not hesitate to call 911 in an emergency, to report a crime or share information with police, without a looming fear of being ripped from their family.”
Sessions did not limit his criticism to local jurisdictions. He also blasted state Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Gov. Jerry Brown and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Newsom responded on Twitter:
Honestly couldn't be more proud that Jeff Sessions called me an embarrassment… pic.twitter.com/LVWhOnNjsG
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) March 8, 2018