In an unprecedented and constitutionally questionable move, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra threatened to prosecute any businesses who assist federal law enforcement officers with immigration enforcement actions.
“It’s important, given these rumors out there, to let people and more specifically employers know that if they voluntarily start giving up information about their employees in ways that contradict our new California law, they subject themselves to actions by my office or local prosecutors enforcing AB 450,” he said at a Thursday press conference.
Becerra announced his decision to go rogue in response to press reports that ICE is planning more enforcement actions throughout the state in coming weeks. Any cooperation with federal officials, he contends, rises to a violation of AB 450, or the “Immigrant Worker Protection Act.”
The former congressman said he will instruct the state Department of Justice and the state Labor Commissioner’s Office to issue formal guidelines to employers regarding their responsibilities the law which effect on Jan. 1, 2018.
The law prohibits an employer “from providing voluntary consent to an immigration enforcement agent to enter nonpublic areas of a place of labor unless the agent provides a judicial warrant, except as specified.”
It also grants authority to the state to fine violators up to $5,000 for a first violation and $5,000 up to $10,000 for each subsequent violation.
The action could place him directly in the line of fire of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) acting director Thomas Homan who has pledged to crack down on officials in sanctuary jurisdictions.
Earlier this month, acting Homan said on Fox News that a level of accountability needs to be established and suggested the Justice Department needs to “start charging some of these politicians” in sanctuary cities.
California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris blasted the idea and suggested in a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions that Homan was asking Justice to simply punish elected officials “for acting in their official capacity pursuant to a validly-promulgated law by the state legislature.”
Homan said that his duty is not to follow state law, but to a higher authority – federal law.
“Let me say this about the [senators]that wrote the letter — I didn’t think Congress is in the business of enacting laws they don’t want law enforcement to enforce,” Homan countered. “I’m enforcing the laws that Congress enacted. And for them to say that I shouldn’t be enforcing the laws, there would be no integrity in the entire system.”