A federal judge rejected the U.S. Justice Department's request to block California's"sanctuary laws" protecting undocumented immigrants, handing a defeat to the Trump administration on one of its signature issues. But the judge also temporarily barred a law that had required employers to restrict federal immigration officials' access to workplaces.
The rulings were issued Wednesday by U.S. District Judge John Mendez in Sacramento, and were made public Thursday.
Mendez's rulings were in response to a preliminary injunction sought by the Justice Department, which sued the state over the laws.
The rulings do not decide the final question of the controversial laws' legalilty.
Mendez in his decision wrote that the federal government failed to establish that California's sanctuary laws sought to intentionally obstruct against enforcement of federal immigration laws.
However, Mendez did say the state could no longer compel businesses, under the law known as AB 450, to prevent immigration officials from accessing a workplace and employment records without first obtaining a search warrant or a subpoena. Businesses, however, are free to insist on those conditions.
At the same time, the judge said he "joins the ever-growing chorus of Federal Judges in urging our elected officials to set aside the partisan and polarizing politics dominating the current immigration debate" and work together to draft laws "that addresses this critical political issues."
"Our Nation deserves it," Mendez wrote. "Our Constitution demands it."
California's governor, Jerry Brown, said in a statement: “I agree with Judge Mendez that piecemeal judicial decisions won’t solve the nation’s immigration challenges. Only Congress can chart the path forward by rising above mindless, partisan divisions and working together to solve this problem, not exacerbate it.”