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Calif. Chief Justice Focuses On Immigration In Annual State Of The Judiciary Address

Rich Pedroncelli / AP / File

Rich Pedroncelli / AP / File

The chief justice of the California Supreme Court is warning lawmakers that the rule of law is being challenged in California.

During her annual State of the Judiciary address to the Legislature Monday, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye echoed her recent letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly objecting to immigration arrests in courthouses.

The chief justice warned those actions cause conflict between the judicial and executive branches.

"I am not saying do not enforce immigration or federal law. I am saying consider us on the sensitive areas list - like a school, or a hospital or a church - where enforcement is the exception not the norm," said Cantil-Sakauye.

She also argued that fear of immigration arrests could have a chilling effect on California communities.

"I am concerned that that kind of information trickles down into the community - the schools, the churches, the families and people will no longer come to court to protect themselves or cooperate or bear witness. I am afraid that that will be the end of justice and communities will be less safe and victimization will continue," she said.

The chief justice also highlighted a new online directory of immigration information through the California courts web site. It offers guidance on how a state court case could affect immigration status and how to find an immigration attorney.

Meanwhile, Sessions is "urging states and local jurisdictions to comply with federal laws."

On Monday, he warned that cities could lose federal money for refusing to cooperate with immigration authorities. 

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